As post-flood life slowly returns to normal for most Calgarians, The City has started the difficult task of assessing the damage and evaluating ways to protect us all from future flooding. The early tally is stunning, and it is expected to increase as we learn more. The Roads department has repaired over a hundred sinkholes, and Water Services continues to assess damage to the storm sewer system, street by street. Almost 90km of river pathways were closed and at least half will need to be rebuilt or moved. All of our beloved parks in the river valley are now partially open, but most will require remediation that will span several years. Some, like Pierce Estate Park, and Sue Higgins Park (Southland Park), lost hectares of land to the raging river as it altered its course.
We need to rethink before we rebuild. Early estimates of $265 million in flood recovery projects could grow to $500 million, and this is a tally primarily for repair and replacement. Additional funds will be needed for flood mitigation to protect public infrastructure for the future. The list is long, and includes projects such as flood protection for the downtown core, Calgary’s economic engine where hundreds of thousands of Calgarians work, shop, and recreate. Essential infrastructure, like our traffic signal system located in the basement of the Municipal Building, will need to be rebuilt and moved to higher ground.
This month, Council will receive updated cost estimates from City Administration and an expert flood mitigation panel. We know from the experience of other communities that have recovered from major disasters, like Slave Lake and Medicine Hat, that all costs are not covered by Provincial disaster funding or insurance. The City will be able to access rainy day funds and Provincial tax room, and we’ll need to make some hard choices.
Throughout the evaluation and review process, Calgarians will be given the opportunity to share their recommendations and ideas to ensure that we make the best and most cost-effective decisions possible. The City is working to create a webpage where citizen input and suggestions can be collected and summarized for the expert panel. Once this page is operational, please provide your suggestions and ideas.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.