Updated Website Launch
We have now completed the update of the BRFM website. The new site makes our position clear and our key messages are front and center with options to expand for more detail. The News portion has been reformatted as a blog where you can find updated information.
Check it out at: www.bownessrfm.ca
To assist with our Social Media initiative, please ‘like’, ‘share’, and ‘comment’ wherever appropriate on Facebook and Instagram.
City Finances & Funding the Bowness Barrier
The provincial government tabled the budget for fiscal year 2019-20 on the 24thof October. In this budget, the Province restricted the Alberta Community Resilience Program (ACRP) funding for flood mitigation projects within municipalities to projects that are currently underway with funding concluding in 2021. Calgary will receive its final ACRP allocation of $15M in two payments: $5M in 2019 and $10M in 2020. These payments will be used for the Downtown Flood Barrier and the Sunnyside Upper Plateau Separation Project. Future projects like the Bowness Barrier will not receive ACRP funding.
During a City Council meeting on Oct 28ththat followed the Provincial Budget announcements, Councillor Sutherland stated that the City could possibly draw from a “flood reserve” valued at $101M for flood mitigation projects in Bowness and Sunnyside.
During the City Council deliberations on the City Budget on November 26, Mayor Nenshi made strong statements about the City finding a way to fund mitigation projects. To hear Mayor Nenshi’s comments where he puts his stake in the ground in support of the barrier projects, click on the following link and start viewing at 6:41:58.
Bowness Flood Mitigation Community Working Group Update
The Bowness Flood Mitigation Community Working Group met for the final time in 2019 on November 4th. The group was given an opportunity to provide input on draft presentation boards for the November 26thOpen House and the evolving decision flowchart / timeline that we have been pressing for. The City has now clarified that in the Spring of 2020 the Utilities and Corporate Services Committee will hear about the barrier project and other City flood mitigation initiatives (this is the annual update that we presented at in May 2019). Following that, the City will conduct a Triple Bottom Line analysis (cost / benefit analysis) of the project and in Summer 2020 the Committee will either make a determination or refer the issue to the full Council for a decision.
The City confirmed to the Working Group that if the outcome of the groundwater study results in the City proceeding with groundwater protection as part of the barrier design, properties that are between the east and west sections of the berm and are not currently part of the project, may be included. This would also include properties within the path of the berm whose landowners had been advised that they may be excluded due to the elevation of their properties.
Amy Stansky has taken over from Denise Nogueira as the Project Manager for the Bowness Barrier Project. Amy has 5 years experience with the City of Calgary and seemed approachable at the Working Group meeting.
The Working Group will meet again on January 13, 2020. We are pressing for a detailed discussion and engagement on the criteria and information that will be taken into consideration for the Triple Bottom Line analysis.
The City continues to monitor the groundwater well sites and has advised that the completion of their modelling is dependant upon the completion of the groundwater study.
In discussions with a Senior Environmental Specialist from Westhoff Engineering Ltd, we became aware of the City of Calgary’s Riparian Action Plan. It has been suggested that the Bowness Barrier project may not in alignment with this policy.
The policy can be found at:
City Engagement in Bowness
In the Fall, The City began a door knocking campaign to address the concern that there is a low level of awareness of the Bowness Barrier Project among non-riverside property owners. BRFM will be delivering info cards to homes and businesses to ensure people are getting balanced information.
In November, the City held an Info Pop-Up at the Bowness Library. The event was poorly advertised and poorly attended.
November 26thCity Open House
On November 26th, the City hosted an Open House for the general public at the Irish Cultural Centre. The City’s poster boards can be found at:
An estimate of 60-80 people, over the course of the evening, attended. Most attendees live on streets adjacent to the river (river and non-river) and Bowwater Crescent.
The overall tone of the evening was respectful; the message from the City seemed to be that they are still studying the feasibility and groundwater is a known challenge. BRFM is very pleased that the word ‘feasibility’ is now part of the official conversation.
There were at least 15 staff and contractors available to answer questions, representing different disciplines on the project:
- Context Research engagement contractors
- Hydrogeologist and PM/Engineer from Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB), the prime contractor
- Landscape architect from O2
- 2-3 stormwater management specialists (City staff?)
- Economist from City Water Services team
- City River Engineering team members
- 3-4 Infrastructure Delivery team members, including the new PM, Amy Stansky just recently assigned to the project, taking over from Denise Noguiera
Ralph Smith, Councillor Ward Sutherland’s Chief of Staff was in attendance.
A few residents discussed insurance and that they have been warned by their providers that coverage may change / be reduced for residents as a result of the berm; City staff made notes. Residents also asked some thoughtful questions about factors that would increase cost estimates (e.g. cost of expropriation, groundwater protection, storm water drainage and the regarding of properties, etc.).
There was some clarification made about the City’s timeline for a decision on next steps for the project; these points of clarification are different than what was shown on the timeline display board and BRFM has asked the City to update their website to reflect the change:
- winter/spring 2020 City will share barrier options with landowners & community
- early spring 2020 Flood Resilience Plan Annual update with Committee (no decisions will be made at this time; BRFM will be calling for members to attend the meeting and to speak as we did in May 2019)
- late spring City to conduct Triple Bottom Line Assessment of Bowness berm
- summer 2020 Committee may decide on next steps or may decide whether to refer a recommendation for next steps to the full City Council for a decision
Thank you to all the BRFM members who met prior to the event and attended the Open House to ensure that key questions were asked in small groups to ensure the issues with the Barrier Project were discussed.
Call to Action
We need volunteers to help distribute information cards to mailboxes in flood affected areas beyond Bow Crescent. If you have some spare time and like going for a walks, please email firstname.lastname@example.org arrange for info cards and your assigned addresses.
Fall 2019 Fundraising update
BRFM’s goal for this stage of our strategy was to raise $50,000 by November 1st. As of December 5, we have raised $31,250 from 53 donors (13 new donors). Last year BRFM raised just over $67,000 from 81 donors during Summer/Fall 2018 fundraising.
We need more households to contribute in order continue to engage the consultants and technical experts. Once the groundwater testing, modeling and preliminary design are released, the technical expert expenses are going to escalate and are concerned that if we don’t raise more funds we may need to adjust our strategy and scale back in the new year.
In recognition of the wide range of economic circumstances in our neighbourhood we have been hesitant to suggest a recommended amount. However, we have been receiving feedback from members that people would like a suggested donation amount. Given that feedback, we ask that each household in the path of the proposed barrier consider a $1000 donation and scale back from that amount based on your individual circumstance. Donations from other members are also welcomed.
E-transfer to email@example.com or send a cheque payable to:
Bowness Responsible Flood Mitigation Society
and send to 6138 Bow Crescent NW, Calgary AB T3B 2B9
On behalf of BRFM, we wish you a very wonderful holiday season.
Ho Ho Slow the Bow!