The Town of High River continues to work with the Government of Alberta and our partners to rebuild and recover from the June flood. Residents, business owners and property owners are encouraged to visit this page often for information and news related to flood recovery, mitigation and renewal programs, services and initiatives.
For news and updates check out the latest issue of the Town Crier (May 13, 2016)
Click on a topic below to expand:
Over seven kilometers of permanent dikes have been constructed along the Highwood River. These have been built to protect against an upstream river flow rate of 1850 cubic metres per second, plus an additional vertical metre of free board protection. This includes the raising of 498 Avenue by the MD of Foothills to protect the eastern portion of town.
As a comparison, the 2013 flood produced an upstream river flow rate of approximately 1820 cubic metres per second, which was the largest ever recorded in the last 100 years.
Currently the southern parts of town along 12 Avenue S.W. are being protected by interim diking measures that have been built to provide protection to river flow rates of 1200 cubic metres per second, which is well above all other flood events in the last 100 years, with the exception of 2013. These interim measures will remain in place until permanent measures are approved and constructed.
The Government of Alberta has received a report from its consultant, Deltares, in regards to the diversion of the Highwood River. The recommendation is to not divert the river, nor was the consultant supportive of the Little Bow floodway enhancement project south of High River.
The Town is working with the Government of Alberta to design the Southwest Dike to replace the interim measures in the southwest.
The Town of High River is in the design stage of the Southwest Dike that will be located south of 12 Avenue S.W. Multiple alignment options are currently being investigated.
On November 2, 2015 the Government of Alberta announced $30 million of funding to go towards completing essential mitigation projects including the Southwest Dike and Fifth Street Dike.
The interim flood mitigation measures along 12 Avenue S.W. will remain in place until a permanent solution has been approved and constructed.
The Highwood River’s capacity has been increased through the removal of the CP Rail Bridge and more than 60,000 cubic metres of rock and flood debris that was removed from the river in 2013. Work is currently underway for the design of a new Centre Street bridge.
The areas around the in-process dikes shown on the map provide natural flood mitigation protection to High River. Dikes to enhance the natural level of protection to the 2013 flood level plus one metre vertical free board will be constructed pending funding, regulatory approval and landowner negotiations.
Although the permanent dikes have been functionally operational since the spring of 2014, some landscaping and aesthetic improvements are still to be completed. All dikes will be seeded with grass, and some will receive trees and shrubs where possible, pending approval of funding.
Funding for these flood mitigation programs has come from a number of Government of Alberta sources including a GOA Flood Mitigation Grant, an Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources (ESRD) grant, an ESRD Flood Recovery Erosion Control program grant, the Disaster Recovery Program, GOA/Tervita contract, as well as from the Town of High River.
Immediately following the 2013 flood, assessments were conducted for surface and underground infrastructure including roads, sidewalks, pathways, sewer lines and water mains. The Town is currently engaged in a multi-year major infrastructure repair and replacement program.
Downtown Reconstruction Program
In the fall of 2013 the Town of High River initiated a Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP). Aspects of this plan are being used in the restoration of High River’s downtown.
Work includes necessary repairs to underground utilities that were damaged in the flood. Additionally, the Town is taking this opportunity to make streetscape improvements to sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.
For example, Fourth Avenue was designed with a greater focus on pedestrian access and the ability to close the street entirely for special events. Phase 1 of the program was completed in 2014 and Phase 2 in 2015.
Phase three will begin in the spring of 2016 and will focus mainly on:
The design of the program will be completed in the fall of 2015, followed by a public tender in early 2016. Construction will commence as early as possible in the spring of 2016.
Pedestrian access to homes and businesses will be maintained throughout construction.
Any work that is not finished in 2016 will be completed in early 2017. Funding for this project comes from a Long Term Recovery Grant provided by the Government of Alberta.
Water meter replacement
The majority of residential and commercial water meters were replaced in 2015 as part of the Town of High River’s Water Meter Exchange Program. The complete replacement of all meters is necessary due to the large numbers that were damaged in the 2013 flood. Replacement of the water meters is being funded by the Town and provincial Disaster Recovery Program.
Water treatment plant outfall upgrade
Due to the buildup of gravel downstream of the Centre Street bridge, the level of the Highwood River next to the water treatment plant is higher than pre-flood. As a result of this, backwash water from the water treatment plant cannot be disposed of by gravity flow back into the river, in high river flow conditions.
Backwashing is a critical regular maintenance function to enable the water plant filters to continue to produce high quality drinking water. In order to have the capability to backwash under all river conditions, an underground tank with pumps was installed. Should the river be so high that the water treatment plant cannot be backwashed by gravity flow; the water will be diverted into the tank and pumped back into the river.
After months of planning, the remediation and restoration work on the library’s permanent location began in early 2015, with the grand opening held in November. The restoration work included some interior renovations to increase space efficiency and modify the lower floor rooms to facilitate community meeting spaces.
Expanded downtown parking lot
The Town of High River expanded one of the downtown public parking lots located just north of the Museum of the Highwood.
The new parking area is located east of the existing lot, between First and Centre Streets, on the former Canadian Pacific land that was purchased by the Town in June.
This project adds an additional 18 parking stalls to the downtown and is the first step in the Town’s plan to increase overall parking in the area.
Council made a difficult decision in the fall of 2013 to ask the Government of Alberta (GOA) to undertake a buyout program for the neighbourhood of Wallaceville. Given the new dike system and the flow of the Highwood River, it was not possible to protect the Wallaceville area in future high water events.
It will be restored to an undeveloped state which will allow the river to flow more freely. The majority of the demolitions were completed by December 2015.
All of the 31 properties in Beachwood have been purchased by the GOA under the floodway purchase program. The Town and the GOA are currently discussing options and timing for the removal of buildings and infrastructure from Beachwood.
Twenty-five years worth of green spaces and parks projects were remediated and rebuilt in High River in 2015. There are still a few playgrounds to complete, water features to fine tune and general odds and ends to tweak but what an accomplishment!
Renewal and parks have worked closely with contractors to restore spaces with a “build it better” mentality – sustainably, ecologically responsible, improved functionality, and financially responsible (both now and for future maintenance).
What growth and establishment looks like
While newly planted and restored areas are welcome sights, they will mature and become more beautiful with time. Time is essential to the establishment and aesthetics of new grassed, planted and naturalized areas. All living things take time to grow and mature. The length of time will vary with the species planted and weather conditions. Naturalized areas will take three to five years to reach a fuller look.
Preventing and controlling weeds
Preventing and controlling weeds is an important part of building healthy looking communities that everyone can enjoy. You can expect to see more weeds growing than usual over the next year, as past flood waters have resulted in seeds being spread throughout the community. Newly planted areas can also be susceptible to weeds, as is the case on some dikes. As healthy grasses and vegetation grow, the majority of weeds will be choked out. Corrective action has been taken in some circumstances and includes hand pulling of weeds, and limited targeted used of chemicals. It will take time, even years, to reach the substantially weed free environment for our community. Parks is dedicated to maintaining these sites in the coming years and to managing our new environmentally responsible green spaces. All the hard work will be worth it in the end.
Work on parks and green space remediation will continue through 2016 as the Town seeks funding or identifies projects.
For more information, please visit the Parks and greenspages page
For more information please visit the Alberta Health Services webpage or call them at 403-943-2295.
Click below to view mould resources from Alberta Health Services:
· Steps for mould remediation in private homes
· Cleaning the house after the flood
· Mouldy homes and buildings
Charles Clark Health Clinic
The Charles Clark Health Centre has re-opened at its location at 303 9 Avenue SW. Current patients can once again make appointments by calling 403-652-2929.
Residents without a doctor are encouraged to visit urgent care at the High River Hospital.
Family and Community Support Services
The FCSS Resource Centre serves as a community hub for resources and support; FCSS is the starting point for accessing community supports and resources and staff are often the first point of contact for community members looking for information, assistance, or support.
More High River Community Support Services
Mental Health Supports
High River Free Counselling Centre
Clients are welcome to drop-in during office hours or book an appointment through the call centre (403) 691-5991.
Unit 101, 122 4 Ave S.W.
Hours of Operation:
Wednesday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Grief and trauma are natural responses to the many losses people experience as a result of a natural disaster. Although normal, these responses can feel overwhelming. If you would like to receive counselling or mental health support, please view this full listing of mental health supports available>>
List of consulting engineers in Alberta (for homeowners who require an engineer)
Manager of renewal operations answers questions about dikes and flood mitigation in High River. Information as of June 23, 2014.
For more video updates, please visit the Mayor's Update page