Canada – Calgary Marks Five Years Since the 2013 Southern Alberta Flood

The 2013 Southern Alberta flood caused significant social and economic disruption, and unprecedented damages. Since then, The City of Calgary has embarked on a journey from recovery to resiliency.

Calgary floods, 2013. Credit: City of Calgary

“Calgarians demonstrated extraordinary resilience during and after the devastating flood of 2013,” says Mayor Nenshi. “In the five years since, building a flood-resilient community has been a top priority for City Council and The City of Calgary. We’ve come a long way, but there is more work left to do—especially upstream of Calgary.”

After the initial emergency response, City staff began the work to recover such as repairing and rebuilding roads, river pathways, LRT tracks, bridges, tunnels, City buildings and infrastructure, collecting and disposing of approximately 100,000 tonnes of flood debris, and stabilizing river banks and gravel bars. It was critical for The City of Calgary to also develop a strategy to manage river flood risks and build more flood-resilient communities.

“Together with the Province, we have committed more than $150-million towards projects that have reduced our risk of river flood damage by one-third since 2013,” explains Frank Frigo, leader of Watershed Analysis. “Today, we are better positioned to understand and manage our flood risks.” Examples of this include:

  • The City and Province have more sophisticated river and weather modelling and monitoring tools, as well as improved emergency response plans and notification to citizens.
  • The Province and TransAlta have an agreement in place to manage water levels on the Bow River reservoirs upstream of Calgary, such as the Ghost Reservoir, to be ready to hold back water in the event of heavy precipitation or flooding.
  • The City is constructing new gates on the Glenmore dam that will double the capacity of water that can be held back on the Elbow River during a flood event.
  • The City is constructing permanent flood barriers to provide more protection to low-lying communities and the downtown core.
  • Work is underway to improve stormwater systems and outfalls in communities such as Sunnyside.
  • The City is further evaluating land use regulations and education programs to increase resiliency to flooding across the city.
  • The City continues to work with the Province to ensure upstream reservoirs are constructed on both the Elbow and Bow Rivers – these are critical to ensure we are able to manage our flood risks.

“Studies have shown that our strategy to reduce the impact of river flood risk, once fully implemented, will protect Calgary against another flood the size of 2013,” says Frigo. “We cannot prevent river flooding but we are working with our provincial and federal partners to reduce its impact.”