June 2019 Newsletter
On Wednesday May 8, Council’s Standing Policy on Community and Protective Services, of which I am the vice chair, convened for its quarterly special role as the City’s Emergency Management Committee. The Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), Tom Sampson, presented with a series of experts, a threat analysis on drought that dovetailed perfectly with presentations City Council had received the week before on the subject of water in our region.
The basics are as follows: the Bow River Basin is the hardest working watershed in Alberta with almost 40% of the population, the majority of river water irrigated agricultural lands, and only 4% of the fresh water; we are entering an age of climate change where all models are suggesting that we will experience warmer and wetter winters and hotter and drier summers; we will experience increasingly severe cycles of flood and drought; and, that without serious mitigation of these cycles and alterations in the way we grow, Calgary’s water supply will reach the limit of our ability to service our regional neighbours in 10 years, and our own growth in 20. CEMA presented that droughts in the region will become more frequent multi-year phenomena with increasing severity and that increasing incidences and severity of wildfire within our own region will accompany drought periods.
The smoke that engulfed Calgary at the end of May this year from super-regional fires in Northern Alberta for me acted as a grim validation of these grim forecasts. The good news is that we have an amazing, forward-looking and proactive municipal government that is working with regional partners to identify, and plan for responding and mitigating these and other disaster vectors that threaten the Calgary Region. Designing and delivering regional growth and redevelopment with fire smart principles is work that needs to start today. And the single biggest move we can make to protect ourselves against drought is also the single biggest thing we can do to protect Calgary from future flood: we need to build upstream storage in the form of a new dam on the Bow River.
Council has identified upstream storage on the Bow River, in addition to the under-approvals SR-1 upstream dry dam on the Elbow River as Calgary’s most important strategic priorities. With a new Provincial Government it’s critical that all Ward 9ers, and all Calgarians, let your MLAs know that this is critical for ensuring the ongoing prosperity of our City long into an uncertain future. Please contact my office to be included in updates on these critically important subjects.