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Bowness Flood Barrier

The Bow River is an integral part of the Bowness community. Being so close to the river means there will always be a risk of flooding. In Bowness, flooding can happen when the flow rate is approximately 850 cubic metres per second (m3/s), which has a 12 per cent chance of occurring each year.

In 2016, The City hired external consultants to update the Provincial Flood Damage Assessment study for Calgary, and to assess and recommend future resiliency and mitigation measures.

The resulting document, the Flood Mitigation Measures Assessment (FMMA) report, was approved by Council in spring of 2017. Recommendations include a combination of watershed-, community- and property-level mitigation solutions to create a flexible and adaptable flood risk management program. The Bowness flood barrier project was one of the recommendations from this study.

Once a new upstream reservoir is constructed, this project will work in combination with that, as well as changes to operations of TransAlta’s reservoirs, to provide enhanced flood protection for Bowness. The construction of barriers will help to protect Bowness from flood events up to 1,200 m3/s. This flow rate represents a one-in-20-year flood, which there is a five per cent chance of realizing every year.

The map below highlights the area of land (purple and yellow area) The City is trying to protect from future flooding. The City is proposing building permanent flood barriers that will extend from the CP Rail tracks to the Shouldice Bridge.

Christie Park Drainage Improvements
Click on image to enlarge

Project Details

This project is still in the early preliminary design stage. The preliminary design phase will span nearly two years, consisting of gathering feedback from community members, conducting site surveys, and completing engineering studies and analysis.

Work completed prior to this phase was part of the conceptual design phase. In this phase it was determined that flood barriers are a feasible option for the community, but no details about the barriers are determined and it is based on information available at the time. It's high-level, conceptual work that needs to be validated and refined in preliminary design.

During preliminary design, studies and analyses that will be undertaken include:

  • Hydrogeological (groundwater studies)
  • Site surveys
  • Geotechnical investigations
  • Flood modelling
  • Stormwater management
  • Landscape architecture and design
  • Environmental assessments and regulatory applications
  • Revised cost estimates and Triple Bottom Line
  • Value engineering

In July, The City hired Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. as the engineering consultant for this project and hired an engagement firm, Context Research Inc., to create a robust public engagement strategy.

Conceptual work has been completed, however, detailed design has not yet started. Input from citizens is an important piece of the detailed design process. Engagement with residents began in early 2018 and will be ongoing through to the completion of the project.

Much of the riverfront property is privately owned in Bowness and The City will work with individual property owners to gather their input, and discuss their concerns and ideas as the detailed design work gets underway.

Next Steps

This next stage of preliminary design includes undertaking the engineering studies and analysis as described above. Preliminary design is expected to last between 12 and 18 months.

Additionally, this stage will require consultation with riverfront property owners. The City will be arranging individual site visits where the project team will visit each property individually and speak with homeowners one-on-one. The City wants to meet directly with homeownersto discuss each property’s unique features, answer questions and determine how we can work together to collect the information we need through means such as site surveys, groundwater analysis, etc.

Preliminary design will be ongoing into 2019, with multiple input opportunities where citizen feedback will be included and considered when looking at further refining the design. We’ll be hosting multiple information sessions for the entire community, we’ll be working one-on-one with riverfront property owners and we’ll also be looking for opportunities for pop-up engagement activities at various community events. Nearing the end of 2019, we’ll be reporting back to the community with the decision on design, with a preferred option moving ahead into the detailed design phase.

From 2020 to 2024, we’ll complete the technical detailed design drawings, further refine construction cost estimates, resolve any outstanding issues and complete any of the regulatory work that is required prior to construction.

Project Timelines



Bowness Barrier

Community Engagement and Design

2018 - 2020

Detailed Design Complete


Construction Phase

2021 - 2023

Construction Complete