Alberta NDP response to Question 3

Question:  What measures will you take to help ensure citizens are protected from future flood events along the Bow River?

Answer:  Alberta’s New Democrats know that the 2013 flood in southern Alberta had enormous impacts. Not only is the storm estimated to have cost the province $6 Billion, it also had huge impacts on the residents, public services, and businesses of Calgary and surrounding area. Many of these impacts are still being felt nearly two years after the flood. The efforts of Albertans to help one another cope with the disaster, demonstrated the values of community and cooperation that make our province great. The Alberta NDP knows that the risks of climate change include more severe storm events such as the one that hit southern Alberta in June 2013. To that end, our party believes the government of Alberta needs to aid in the development of watershed-scale, city-scale, and community-scale mitigation measures that accommodate the natural hydrology of the province and region.

Alberta’s NDP believes that in order to prevent future catastrophic floods and the immense human suffering that would accompany such events, our communities need to be prepared beyond the 1:100 year storm event standard, especially given the consequences of climate change and the increasingly extreme weather events that accompany it. Aside from physical upstream mitigation, which will be discussed below, there needs to be an integrated land-use and watershed management plan put in place for the entire region in order to deal with flood events.

Any project approved for flood mitigation would preferably be useful in times of drought as well, in order to better ensure hydrological security for Albertans in the Calgary region. Such projects would include proper consultation with the cities, municipalities, and communities involved. This is also true of any mitigation projects that would be undertaken on the Elbow River.

Alberta’s NDP will work with municipal partners to more fully investigate the possibilities presented by bolstering the Ghost River dam owned by TransAlta to provide upstream mitigation on the Bow River. While this process is ongoing, an NDP government would also work to support the City of Calgary in the bolstering of in-city flood barriers on the Bow, and would ensure that future provincial dollars would only be spent on infrastructure that does not obstruct the river, which would ease flow and decrease the impacts of a flood event. Mitigation and storage options upstream from Calgary would certainly be explored in order to maximize protection from future flood events.

While there has been much work done to explore the options for mitigating the Elbow, there needs to be more work done to study the issues with the Bow River. The Ghost River project certainly has merit, but there needs to be further study to create options for cost-effective solutions for mitigating flood risks on the Bow. While this might turn up little else than in-city flood barriers, citizens in areas vulnerable to Bow flooding deserve to have the peace of mind that all options have been explored to spare their property. Alberta’s NDP would ensure that those studies were undertaken.

Question:  What is your opinion on the proposed flood mitigation options for the Elbow River:
  1. Glenmore Reservoir Diversion Tunnel;
  2. The McLean Creek dry dam;
  3. The Springbank off-stream diversion and storage site and do you favour this project as a dry dam only or as a permanent reservoir?
Detail can be found here:

Answer:  Current efforts by the PC government have not been sufficient in protecting Calgary from the threat of a major flood event like that experienced in the summer of 2013. This indicates PC indifference towards our cities and their changing needs in an environment where catastrophic weather events are becoming increasingly likely, given the reality of human influenced climate change.

Alberta’s NDP proposes a capital plan that frontloads funding in the five-year plan in order to fund necessary projects in a shorter time frame than that produced by the PCs in their March 2015 budget document. This has two immediate impacts: first, these projects will get built faster, and the costs will be lower, given more favourable market and other conditions. It will provide economic opportunities at a time when the province is in need of employment opportunities.
  1. Glenmore Reservoir Diversion Tunnel;
    Answer: The Alberta NDP agrees with the Expert Management Panel on River Flood Mitigation’s assessment that there is a need to increase the capacity of the Glenmore reservoir in order to make sure that there is more storage available in the event of a large flood.
  2. The McLean Creek dry dam;
    Answer: The Alberta NDP would support this project, and work with municipal partners to get the job done. Though it would likely take longer to complete, it would work to protect more communities than the Springbank project (including Bragg Creek, Redwood Meadows, and Tsuu T'ina), for a price that some community groups suggest is in line with what the Springbank project would cost.
  3. The Springbank off-stream diversion and storage site and do you favour this project as a dry dam only or as a permanent reservoir?
    Answer: Alberta’s NDP would not support this project. Some of the core complaints about the project ring true for us, and it does not provide an adequate degree of protection for many of the communities in the surrounding areas. If a project this size is to be undertaken, it needs to ensure that as many communities as possible are protected.

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