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Riparian areas in Calgary

The areas surrounding rivers, creeks and streams are known as riparian areas. They include riverbanks and floodplains, and can range from a few metres to several hundred metres in size. Healthy riparian areas provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including:

  • Preventing excessive erosion
  • Stabilizing riverbanks
  • Slowing floodwaters through natural floodplains
  • Improving water quality
  • Providing habitat for fish and wildlife
  • Offering aesthetic, recreational and economic benefits to Calgarians

Calgary's Riparian Strategy
Riparian Area Diagam
Click the picture for a full size diagram

Calgary's Municipal Development Plan includes a guiding mandate to conserve and restore the natural environment, including riparian green infrastructure. The 2013 Riparian Strategy outlined a high level framework with a vision, principles, and strategies. This has been followed up with a more detailed 10-year program implementation plan, called the Riparian Action Program (RAP). The RAP sets out specific actions, indicators, and targets, focused on three program areas and associated outcomes, including:


Program Area Outcome
Land use planning Further loss of riparian areas is minimized
Health restoration City-wide-riparian health is improved
Education and Research Stakeholders and citizens value riparian areas

The RAP document is intended to be used by planners, engineers, practitioners and watershed stewards within The Corporation and the community for direction and ideas on how to protect and restore riparian landscapes in Calgary. It is intended to help practitioners and citizens actively engage and align their work across Calgary’s watersheds.

Additional Background Documents and Data

Additional City-wide documents, maps and data related to the Riparian Program include: