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 22, 2015)
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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.
The permanent dikes have been functionally operational since May of 2014, but some landscaping work remains to be completed in the spring of 2015.
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 recently 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 a permanent dike to replace the interim measures in the southwest.
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.
Little Bow Canal Dike
The Government of Alberta started construction on upgrades to Little Bow Canal Dike in January. Work is expected to be complete before the 2015 flood season. The dike is being designed to protect against the river level experienced in the 2013 flood, plus an additional vertical metre of protection. This is the same design standard as all other permanent dikes in High River.
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.
Sections of the Happy Trails pathways were paved along the dike near George Lane Memorial Park over the past year, and this will continue into 2015, in places where the paved pathways existed pre-flood. Other improvements to the dikes may include the installation of safety fences and stairways, or replacement of benches or garbage cans damaged in the flood.
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. In 2014 the Town of High River began undertaking a multi-year major infrastructure repair and replacement program.
Restoration of Town properties
A total of 79 out of 83 Town of High River properties were moderately to severely damaged by flood water.
The main administration building, which is jointly occupied by the MD of Foothills, was severely damaged in the flood. Staff had to be relocated to several locations while remediation was underway. MD staff established short-term offices outside the community while Town staff were separated into two temporary facilities to allow services to resume.
After 10 months of remediation and construction, all pre-flood Town services were able to return to the Town office.
Many other Town owned buildings were reopened after being remediated including the Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex, Culture Centre, Highwood Memorial Centre and the Operations Centre.
Downtown Phase 1
In the fall of 2013, the Town initiated a Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP). Aspects of this plan are being used in the restoration of High River’s downtown. Work includes new underground infrastructure and a pedestrian-friendly design that will create an enjoyable shopping experience and attractive retail setting for businesses.
Work on phase one in the downtown was limited to parts of Macleod Trail S.W., 3 Avenue S.W. and 4 Avenue S.W.
Along with the necessary replacement of damaged sewer lines and water mains, other improvements included widening of sidewalks, moving to two-way traffic, new street lighting and the addition of tree trenches.
Fourth Avenue has been designed with a greater focus on pedestrian access and the ability to close the street entirely for special events. Other improvements to 4 Avenue S.W. include traffic-slowing measures by way of a narrower street and a bent travel lane.
Finishing work on sidewalks, boulevards and tree trenches in these areas will be completed in the spring of 2015.
The repair and reconstruction of downtown is part of High River’s multi-year infrastructure program that was made possible by a $15 million Critical Infrastructure Grant from the Government of Alberta.
Utility and road work
Replacement of damaged underground infrastructure was performed in many residential areas in the southwest part of town. Weather and other unforeseen circumstances resulted in only partial completion of some projects, but work will begin again in the spring.
The majority of flood damaged back lanes and alleys were remediated throughout the town in 2014. A few minor deficiencies will be addressed in 2015.
Montrose Bridge reopened in October 2014, restoring an important access point for the Montrose neighbourhood. The reconstruction of the bridge was a $2.4 million project funded primarily by the Disaster Recovery Program (DRP).
Downtown Phase 2
Work on the restoration of High River’s downtown will continue with the replacement of damaged underground utilities, as well as the addition of streetscape improvements to sidewalks, lighting, traffic flow and landscaping.
Phase two of the program will focus mainly on 1 Street S.W. between 4 and 6 Avenue S.W., as well as 5 Avenue S.W.
Although 4 Avenue S.W., Macleod Trail S.W. and 3 Avenue S.W. were substantially completed in 2014, finishing work on sidewalks, boulevards and tree trenches will be completed in 2015.
Water meter replacement
All residential and commercial water meters will be replaced throughout 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 DRP.
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 is being 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.
Just five months after the flood, the High River Centennial Library reopened its doors to the public at a temporary location on 12 Avenue S.W.
After months of planning, the remediation and restoration work on the library’s permanent location is set to begin in early 2015, with an opening date planned for May, 2015.
The restoration work includes some interior renovations to increase space efficiency and modify the lower floor rooms to facilitate community meeting spaces.
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 GOA is planning to begin the majority of the demolition in the summer of 2015. Part of this process also includes a parks master plan for the area that is currently being developed. Work should be concluded in 2016.
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.
Parks remediation and reconstruction work began in April 2015. Each week an update will be provided with details on completed work, as well as anticipated work (weather permitting) for the upcoming week. The numbers by locations correspond to the reference numbers on the parks map referenced below. Read update for week of May 22, 2015>>
New grass needs your help: As part of the parks program many areas are being seeded and sodded with new grass. These areas need time to grow and establish themselves. Please stay off these areas in the coming weeks – the result will be rich green grass for the summer months.
Storm water ponds
In 2014 sediment and general clean-up work was conducted at the Highwood, Sunshine, Vista Mirage, Nissan and Montrose storm water ponds. Now that this initial work has been completed, remediation and restoration work will begin in 2015. Work in these areas will vary, but may include the following where needed:
For more information on the 2014 program please visit the Park's Projects public forum
Although many of the new dikes have already been seeded with grass, the Town is currently seeking funding to plant trees and shrubs where permitted.
Remediation work on all boulevards in town will be completed in 2015. Work will range from aerating, top-dressing and seeding an area, to completely coring and replacing with sod depending on the level of damage.
Osprey nesting platform
The Town has received grant funding and volunteer support to construct an osprey nesting platform on the former Mercer property located in the southwest part of town. Once a suitable location has been found construction on the platform can begin.
The tennis courts playing area will be resurfaced after being damaged in the flood.
Work on parks and green space remediation will continue through 2015 as the Town seeks funding or identifies projects. Several of the above projects may also extend into 2016, because the landscaping season is short and work is dependent upon weather.
For more information, please visit the Parks and greenspages page
Mould education sessions
Bow Valley College, in cooperation with the Town of High River, hosted several mould education sessions with expertise provided by Alberta Health Services in March.
Stay tuned for information about additional classes that may be held on future dates depending on demand for this course. Classes are limited to 18 participants.
Click here for Alberta Health Services mould information
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. Elevators are not operational, but any patients unable to use the stairs will be treated on the main floor.
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. View Community Supports & Services Guide and the Referral & Resource Guide. There is also a special resource guide for Seniors.
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