Sunnyside Flood Barrier

What's happening: February 2022

A flood barrier is an important piece of infrastructure that will help protect people, homes, and businesses in Sunnyside and Hillhurst. We’re still committed to delivering a 1:100 level flood barrier. At the same time, the barrier’s location along an iconic stretch of Calgary is an important consideration. Memorial Drive is one of Calgary’s most cherished corridors and must be protected and where possible enhanced.

That’s why we're proceeding with an integrated Memorial Parkway Program to deliver a comprehensive vision with capital projects to achieve the best outcome for the area (view the report to Council).

Benefits to Calgarians

When designing and constructing the flood barrier, we have a chance to build upon improvements to this area that have happened over the last 10 years and continue to improve the entire public space surrounding Memorial Drive from 14th Street to Centre Street while adding critical flood protection.

A refreshed vision for the area would include:

  • Creating more unique spaces that bring us together to connect with each other, our history and to nature.
  • A focus on improving how people move around the area, whether it’s by foot, bus, bike, or car for safer and easier passage.
  • Providing more and safer access points for people to get to the river.
  • Introducing new ways to enhance the vibrancy of the natural environment while preserving as many trees as possible. This includes the Memorial poplar trees that remember our fallen soldiers.

We used a similar integrated approach in Eau Claire, where we brought in multiple disciplines to solve the challenge of enhancing the beauty and usability, while seamlessly integrating a flood barrier into the space.

What's next

Developing a guiding vision for the area
Over the next six months, we’ll be refreshing the original vision for Memorial Drive taking into consideration a lot has happened since it was established in 2005. In last 17 years, the area was severely impacted by flooding; we saw the completion of several projects like the Memorial Drive median improvements and Poppy Plaza; and we broadened our way of thinking how people move around and use the pathways.

As this work evolves, we will work with the community and the city as we explore different design concepts for the area and build a space that meets multiple user experiences. Once the vision is established it will help inform the continued design work on the Sunnyside flood barrier, which will be finalized and then move into construction in 2023.

We will keep you informed on details as we work towards our first public engagement opportunity.


Bow River flooding - what's the risk in Sunnyside?

Homes, buildings and other infrastructure in Sunnyside are impacted when river flows reach levels of 927 m3/s (1:10). There is a 10 per cent chance of this occurring every year. Find out if your property is at risk of flooding​.

What measures will protect Sunnyside from future flooding?

To protect Sunnyside from future flooding, the Flood Mitigation Measures Assessment​ (FMMA) report, approved by Council in spring of 2017, recommended that 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.

Flood barrier height recommendation for Sunnyside

After working with the community and completing a Triple Bottom Line evaluation to explore different options for a flood barrier in Sunnyside, Council approved the 1 in 100-year flood barrier height that will help protect people, homes and businesses in Sunnyside/Hillhurst from river flooding.

Benefits of the 1 in 100-year flood level barrier height

  • Reduces the 2013-level flood risk, which will be further reduced by current and future upstream reservoirs on the Bow River.
  • Less disruptive to the community look and feel
  • Increases the ability to protect vulnerable populations
  • Meets the provincial and federal flood standard (1 in 100-year)
  • Provides the building blocks for future climate resiliency

Addressing other sources of flooding in Sunnyside

Due in part to the geography as well as an outdated drainage system, Sunnyside is more prone to flooding and this is something that The City is working to fix. In addition to the flood barrier, several projects have been completed or are currently underway to reduce flooding that happens in the community.

Visit for a list of projects and up to date information.

Public engagement

Subscribe for email updates for information on future engagement opportunities.

Sunnyside Flood Barrier Engage page

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

Stay connected

Project specific information


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