Meeting With Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes

January 26, 2014 by CRC Action Group in Meetings & Updates, News

The Steering Committee of the CRCAG is pleased to report on a very productive and encouraging meeting with the new Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ken Hughes, on Monday, Jan 20. On behalf of CRCAG, Emma May, Tony Morris, Brenda Leeds Binder, Rob Motherwell, Rob Nieuwesteeg and Daryl Rudichuk were in attendance.


In addition to Minister Hughes,  Mr. Andre Corbould and David Gowland (the Minister’s Chief of Staff) were also in attendance on behalf of the GOA.


We gave the Minister background on our Action Group, our formation and our mission. We  also communicated the fears and concerns our members face as we move forward to spring and June, in particular. We discussed the DRP, our views on the Floodway Buyout Policy and flood insurance, but focused primarily on the need for clarity and certainty when it comes to getting upstream flood mitigation infrastructure constructed.


Below is a summary of our meeting notes.  We expect to have more information on the upstream flood mitigation proposals following the Water Collaborative meeting this Thursday, Jan 23rd.



The Flood Recovery Task Force Alberta is keeping an open mind to solutions proposed by the Markin Panel and others.  The GOA is committed to a very deliberate, science-based analysis of determining which flood mitigation solutions make the most sense, considering flood mitigation effectiveness, cost and the environment.


More than $200 million  have already been allocated to mitigation projects, for example, erosion control.  The Flood Recovery Task Force is targeting to present clear options to the GOA this Spring, with respect to the larger infrastructure projects.  Mr. Corbould reminded us that infrastructure is only 1 of 7 Key Elements to Flood Mitigation – all 7 Key Elements are outlined in the GOA publication “Respecting Our Rivers, Alberta’s Approach to Flood Mitigation” (see


CRCAG was encouraged, but expressed concerns about timing.



Bow River mitigation plans are under consideration.  The opportunity to mitigate exists with current infrastructure and potential new solutions. For example, the Government of Alberta (GOA) is exploring storage locations at Ghost and Waiparous as well as an off take storage option east of Cochrane (private land involved). TransAlta is being engaged in the plans to mitigate on the Bow.



Minister Hughes seems committed to improving the DRP process.  For example, since being appointed, the Minister has engaged a special team to dig into the insurance hold up impacting approximately 1000 DRP files. The Minister tasked those with business experience in the insurance industry with “cracking this nut” and expects to see files moving forward as a result shortly.



The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) expressed an interest to the GOA for the IBC to make a proposal on a flood insurance program. As of yet they have not provided such a proposal, however apparently this is in the works.


We discussed how several US jurisdictions are having challenges with their Government sponsored floor insurance programs financially and some worry they may be unsustainable over the long term.  Their are several challenges involved but many alternative models are being reviewed. The risk /reward calculations can result in impractically high premiums.  We further discussed that a flood insurance program will likely have to be a national program to be viable.


Discussions were had around commercial flood insurance and the high premiums that commercial enterprises endure.  Naturally, mitigation proposals would work well to manage the risk of flooding, and perhaps improve the viability of flood insurance.



We discussed the need to have a strong emergency plan in place for this coming year, and that we are looking forward to hearing more from the City of Calgary on this topic. Sandbags and other equipment for flood preparedness that are purchased by municipalities to replace stockpiles used in 2013 qualify for DRP mitigation funding.



The South Saskatchewan region is the most populated region in Alberta, with an estimated 1.6 million people – or 45 per cent of the population of Alberta.  The GOA has prepared a draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan (2013), that creates new conservation areas, establishes environmental limits, protects Alberta’s water supply and provides clarity about land use and access.


Based on Albertans feedback on the draft plan, the GOA will produce the final plan and submit it to Cabinet for approval. Once approved, the plan becomes law. This is an important document and will have impact on the overall management of water and watershed in our area. Albertans are invited to provide feedback on the plan before the end of February.  Please visit more information.




On a personal note, Minister Hughes grew up in High River and has spent the majority of his life in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains; he has a life time of familiarity with the watershed. He also experienced firsthand the flooding in High River in 1995.


Minister Hughes noted that there often is a diminishing amount of political will over time to move forward with mitigation infrastructure after a large catastrophic event. Part of the reason why he has become directly involved in this portfolio, is to continue to drive forward with cost effective, practical infrastructure initiatives. He has a strong care and concern to protect the community in the future and expressed his determination not to allow political will to implement flood mitigation projects to dissipate.


We were very encouraged to hear this view from Minister Hughes, which is very much aligned with the goals of CRCAG.  At the Minister’s suggestion, CRCAG looks forward to providing the Minister with a guided walk through tour of Calgary’s flood impacted communities.