Ten years after flooding devastated the city, Calgary’s downtown and Eau Claire neighborhoods are better protected now that the flood wall is complete.
The Town Center Flood Barrier runs 1.39 kilometers along the south bank of the Bow River and consists of steel sheet piles, earth berms, concrete walls and timber openings stops designed to withstand a flood that occurs every 200 years.
Thursday also marked the completion of the Eau Claire promenade, the Center Street pedestrian ramp and the Jaipur Bridge.
“Thanks to incredible volunteerism, a sense of duty and key investments, we find ourselves here today, in an area that was once submerged and not only needed infrastructure to protect us from flooding every 200 years, but an area that has now also become exceptionally community-oriented and beautified,” said Mayor Jyoti Gondek.
Frank Frigo, the city’s environmental steward, said the new infrastructure would have protected the city center along the Bow in 2013.
Protections are also underway along the north bank of the Bow River and along the Elbow River.
“With the completion (of the off-stream Springbank Reservoir) and working in tandem with the $83 million investment we have made in the Glen Moore Gates, components of downtown Elbow River will also be protected again by 2025, when Springbank will be fully functional,” says Frigo.
Frigo said 4.1 kilometers of shoreline would be protected.
Calgary Skyview MP George Chahal said improved flood protection in Calgary will help protect against extreme weather and climate events.
“With the recent increase in extreme weather events, we must continue to work together with our provincial and municipal partners across Canada to ensure the safety and well-being of our communities in the future,” Chahal said.
Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said he remembers when the 2010 flood was considered the city’s worst flood.
“Those of us who thought that turned out to be wrong,” he said.
McIver recalled the frantic response of homeowners during the 2013 floods as they tried to protect their property from rising waters.
“It’s a helpless feeling because if you look at the Bow River today, a lot of us could probably walk across it without getting our knees wet,” McIver said. “But that’s not how it is in the spring. And that’s not how it feels when Mother Nature decides to remind us that she’s in charge.
McIver said that in addition to building the off-stream Springbank Reservoir, the province is working to find a place for protection up the Bow River.
“It’s not just about protecting against floods, but also about mitigating droughts. I am told that if you look at the statistics over 100 years, there are actually more droughts and floods. Everything therefore depends on water and our ability to maintain a sustainable natural environment while protecting people and property from flooding, protecting our crops. obviously provides us with the food we need – against drought and to maintain an excellent quality of life,” he said.
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