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Sunnyside Flood Barrier

What's happening

Peace Bridge - Calgary

To help us better manage flood water and avoid damage similar to what was experienced in 2013, The City is proposing improvements to the existing flood barrier in the community of Sunnyside.

The Sunnyside Flood Barrier project is currently in the preliminary design stage, where we are determining the extent of improvements needed. This stage consists of engineering studies and surveys to help inform various options. Near the end of this stage, we’ll be gathering feedback from the Sunnyside community on the proposed options to develop a design that works for the community and aligns with our overall flood mitigation strategy.

In winter 2020 (Q1), we will select a barrier option that we can move forward with into detailed design and construction.

Studies and analysis

Beginning in early 2019 and continuing over the next 12-18 months, the following studies and analysis will be undertaken:

  • Geotechnical investigations (in progress): To determine what improvements are needed to the barrier we will be conducting various studies of the ground conditions, groundwater and condition of the existing barrier. View map of borehole and monitoring well locations.
  • Hydrogeological: Looking at how groundwater flows and identifying seepage risks.
  • Hydrotechnical: Examining different river conditions to help inform the barrier height and river bank protection. We’ll be using a river model to inform these studies. This model has been updated to include post-flood conditions such as: gravel bars, Prince’s Island causeway, Downtown barrier, changes to the ice anchor and river bank restoration.
  • Tree inventory: Identifying any trees that will and won’t impact the integrity of the barrier.
  • Environmental review: Helping to inform the design process and regulatory requirements.
  • Barrier option analysis: Evaluating different levels of service of the barrier (i.e. height and length) along with the associated cost, lifecycle performance and how well it integrates into the community.

Results from these studies will available on the Community Flood Barriers - studies and reports.

Getting input from the Sunnyside community

Engagement with the Sunnyside community began in 2017 starting with the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA) and its committees. An open house for the community was held in December 2018 to share background information on the project. As engagement continues into 2019, we will be seeking input from residents about:

  • Height of the proposed barriers with an understanding of the related trade-offs.
  • Community values, including but not limited to: pedestrian and bike pathways, benches, trees.

Design options are tentatively scheduled to be ready for review in late summer 2019 and will be presented to the Sunnyside community at that time.

View the Sunnyside Flood Barrier Engage Page.


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Row Count: 5
ListCat: Sunnyside Flood Barrier
ID: 1753

Homes, buildings and other infrastructure in Sunnyside are impacted when river flows reach levels of 927 cubic metres per second (m3/s). There is a 10 per cent chance of this occurring every year.

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Row Count: 5
ListCat: Sunnyside Flood Barrier
ID: 1754

To protect Sunnyside from another 2013 level flood, the Flood Mitigation Measures Assessment(FMMA) report, approved by Council in spring of 2017, outlined how there isn't one single project that will provide adequate flood protection on its own on the Bow River.

Instead, the recommended approach from this report was a combination of mitigation solutions that work together to create a flexible and adaptable flood risk management program. Each piece of the strategy provides great benefits independently, but together, they ensure the most effective flood protection strategy.

Below is a summary of this multi-measure approach to building flood resiliency that includes the construction of a new upstream reservoir, as well as changes to the TransAlta’s Ghost Reservoir and the construction of community-level flood barriers.

Building Flood Resiliency in Sunnyside
Click to view larger image.

How do community-level flood barriers work with upstream flood mitigation measures?

The upstream measures would work hand in hand with community level-flood barriers. During a potential flood, a new upstream reservoir along with the Ghost Reservoir would provide significant additional storage and would control the river flow rate, but only up to 1,230 m3/s. Since the existing barrier in Sunnyside provides protection up to 927 m3/2 the improvements to the community flood barriers would help make up that difference so that higher river flows can still pass through the community without being flooded.

Until the upstream migration is complete, how is Sunnyside being protected from flooding?

Once improvements to the existing barrier in Sunnyside are complete, the community could withstand higher river flows up to a minimum of 1,230 m3/s – depending on the height of the barrier chosen. This measure alone would provide additional protection from smaller floods that are more likely to occur, but in order to protect to a 2013 level flood, multiple flood mitigation measures are required to work as part of a larger strategy.

Learn more about Calgary's Flood Mitigation and Resiliency Plan.

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Row Count: 5
ListCat: Sunnyside Flood Barrier
ID: 1757

The project team is comprised of a group of internal experts and external consultants.

  • Stantec Ltd. - Engineering consultant and landscape architects
  • Context Research Inc. - Public engagement

Project Budget

  • $12.9 million for the design and construction costs associated with upgrades to the barrier and groundwater seepage trench.
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Row Count: 5
ListCat: Sunnyside Flood Barrier
ID: 1758

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Row Count: 5
ListCat: Sunnyside Flood Barrier
ID: 1759

Sunnyside is one of many communities in Calgary that experiences flooding. This is due in part to the geography, as well as an outdated drainage system. The main sources of flooding in the community are:

  • Overland flooding from the Bow River
  • Groundwater seepage from the Bow River
  • Stormwater backup from the Bow River
  • Stormwater from Sunnyside
  • Stormwater from the Upper Plateau
  • Sanitary sewer backup

To help address localized flooding that happens in the area, the following projects are in progress or have been completed.

Flood Mitigation in Sunnyside
Click to view larger image.

1. Sunnyside Flood Barrier

Design and construction of improvements to the existing permanent flood barrier along the riverbank.

Status: In progress. Estimated completion in 2021.

2. Upper Plateau Separation Project

The City is building dedicated stormwater infrastructure for the Upper Plateau to help prevent flooding of the Lower Plateau of Sunnyside/Hillhurst.

Status: In progress. Estimated completion in 2020. 

3. Sunnyside Sanitary Lift Station Replacement

This lift station was upgraded for flood resiliency. It is designed to operate up to a water depth of 1.5 metres. At water depths above this, the sanitary sewer will overflow, but the lift station can keep pumping all the way up to a 1-in-100 flood event.

Status: Completed summer 2018.

4. Sunnyside Storm Lift Station Improvement (Pump Station #2)

The lift station is being upgraded for flood resiliency and to provide a higher pumping capacity of 2,000 L/s.

Status: In progress. Estimated completion in 2019.

5. New Sunnyside Storm Lift Station (Pump Station #1)

A new lift station will alleviate overland flooding on Memorial Drive, and localized flooding in the south east area of Sunnyside by Memorial Drive and 3 Street N.W. by providing 1,000 L/s of pumping capacity.

Status: In progress. Estimated completion in 2020.

6. Memorial Drive & 3 Street N.W. Critical Erosion Site

This project repaired erosion damage from the 2013 flood and stabilized the river bank. In addition this project contributed to flood resiliency with the addition of a concrete wall near the Centre Street Bridge.

Status: Completed in 2013.

Public Engagement

Sunnyside Open House
Learn more about the flood barrier options being explored in Sunnyside and provide your feedback. Your input will be part of the social factors considered in The City’s analysis of the options.

Tuesday, September 24
5 – 8 p.m.
Sunnyside School – Gymnasium, 211 7th Street N.W.

View previous engagement activities, reports back to the community and presentations

Stay connected

Project specific information



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List Category: Sunnyside Flood Barrier