Calgary River Valleys Project

Planning the future of Calgary’s river valley areas to support  resilient river communities

The river valleys are essential to Calgary’s identity. They play an important role in our city’s appeal as one of the best places in the world to live, play and do business.

Making careful decisions about how we plan, develop and build in the floodplain is a fundamental part of protecting and enhancing the value of our river valleys in our community. That’s why The City is undertaking the Calgary River Valleys Project. 

What’s happening?

The City is planning for the future of our river valleys through the Calgary River Valleys Project.

The purpose of the Calgary River Valleys Project is to provide guidance for decisions about how we plan, use, conserve and build in our river valleys. The goal is to create coordinated and purposeful land use policies. These policies may make use of a range of levers, including reserves, setbacks, densities and different types of land uses.

The project will create and consolidate:

  • Principles for planning public spaces that provide direction to guide future recreation, trails, environmental protection, and land management decisions.
  • Principles for planning private land planning that provide direction on land use tools, which shape future development, like reserves, setbacks, design requirements, densities and types of land use.
  • Inform amendments to the Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaw, ensuring that Calgary’s guiding planning documents consistently address development, planning and investment in our river valleys and areas impacted by flooding. 

Engagement for Stage 1 of the project is now concluded. This stage was an opportunity for all Calgarians to tell us what’s important about the Bow River and Elbow River valleys. The feedback we received will help shape long-term City planning policies and decisions in these important natural environment areas. The Stage 1 What We Heard Report is now available.

Why this project is important

The decisions we make today about the river valleys will have long-term impacts. It’s important to articulate smart, long-term priorities for land use, conservation, planning and investment.

Bold actions now will determine future climate change and flood resilience, and the well-being of Calgary’s environment, communities and citizens.

The importance of river valleys

Calgary’s river valleys are essential to our city—they are part of Calgary’s origin story, are woven into our place names, and are a key part of The City’s visual landscape and wayfinding system. They are a place of vibrant communities, our downtown core, parks and abundant wildlife.

Click through the tabs below to learn about different roles the river valleys play in Calgary:



River valleys contain important natural and ecological systems. They provide a range of high-value ecological goods and services, including functions that relate to provision, habitat, and regulation. They supply Calgary with high quality drinking water and provide natural infrastructure that helps us manage stormwater, wastewater, and our relationship to local wildlife.

Recreation & Access

Recreation & Access

River valleys are important recreation spaces. They anchor Calgary’s park system, which provides a wide range of spaces for both active and passive recreational use. The rivers are home to water sports, fishing and swimming, and the valleys contain important parks and pathways that tie together The City’s active transportation network. 



River valleys are important cultural landscapes with deep histories.

Calgary’s river valleys contain deep histories of meaning and use that span thousands of years of inhabitation and include sacred Indigenous places.

Today, they continue to provide a setting for cultural expression, reflection, spirituality, and celebration for many different individuals and groups.

Building & Development

Building & Development

River valleys are attractive places to live and work. They bring value through proximity to water and green space, and continue to draw a range of land uses that seek to leverage this value. 



River valleys are prone to flooding. Floods are a natural occurrence, but they are increasing in number and severity, due to a changing climate. This trend presents more risks to safety and property in the city. The City has a responsibility to address flooding through both emergency response and risk reduction, which includes setting out appropriate land use profiles for the river valleys.

Project engagement

A multi-staged public engagement process began in late April 2023 to collect input from people who live, work, travel, and play within Calgary’s river valleys. 

Stage 1 (concluded)

Stage 1 engagement occurred in spring and summer 2023. It provided opportunities to discuss and share our river valley values and priorities at a high-level. 

This stage was an opportunity for all Calgarians to voice what is important about the river valleys. Your feedback and values will shape approaches to development, recreation, natural space and flood hazard planning.  

Get involved

Drop by an outdoor pop-up event

  • Stage 1 engagement is now concluded. Thank you to all who participated.
  • Stage 2 engagement (anticipated late 2023) opportunities will be posted here when available. 

Stay connected

Sign up for the flood readiness e-newsletter to receive updates on future engagement opportunities.

Useful links

Stage 1 engagement opportunities included:


An online survey was available on the project engage portal April 27 to June 5, 2023.

River Valley Roadshows

We hosted four River Valley Roadshows in spring 2023:

  • April 27 (4 – 8 p.m.) – Old Fire Hall #6 (Poppy Plaza)
  • May 4 (4 – 8 p.m.) – Seton Public Library (at Brookfield YMCA)
  • May 10 (4 – 8 p.m.) – Fort Calgary
  • May 16 (4 – 8 p.m.) – Four Points Sheraton Hotel West

Outdoor pop-up events

We held three outdoor pop-up events in July 2023:

  • July 18 (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) – East Village, by the Simmons Building
  •  July 19 (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) – Lindsay Park, on pathway behind MNP Centre
  • July 20 (11 a.m. – 2 p.m.) – Edworthy Park, north side of the bridge, near Angel’s Café

Thank you to all who participated in Stage 1 engagement. The What We Heard Report for Stage 1 engagement is now available.

Connection to other regulations and plans

An updated Calgary River Valleys Plan will also lead to changes to other supporting regulations and plans, including but not limited to: