A Red Deer city worker stands beside a channel that was melted last spring into two-metre-thick ice in Waskasoo and Piper creeks to allow for spring runoff and avert a flood. (Contributed photo).

Quick action prevented massive downtown flood

Everyday and ‘grand-scale’ efforts made to save money, council hears

A massive flood in downtown Red Deer was averted last spring by fast-acting and innovative city workers, city council has heard.

Upon discovering that flow from a broken water main had created ice as thick as 2.6 metres on Waskasoo and Piper creeks, public works staff began a major undertaking to carve a 300-metre channel in the ice to allow a path for spring runoff.

The project, which took more than a month to complete south of the Baymont Inn and the downtown Safeway, was revealed to city councillors during budget discussions.

Corporate services director Lisa Perkins listed the channel carving among 80-plus innovations and efficiencies that city staff had undertaken in 2018 or were planning for 2019.

Less dramatic measures include expanding the popularity of the electronic billing site to save $30,000 in mailing costs and adding solar panels to the Sorensen transit station roof to power the parkade.

“The work city staff do is amazing,” said Perkins — both everyday efforts to boost efficiency as well as “grand-scale projects” such as the flood mitigation.

As the winter of 2018 began to wane, staff from the city’s public works, environmental services and parks departments collaborated with Alberta Environment on ways to prevent “a massive flood” in the downtown.

Public works manager Greg Sikora recalled, “The creeks usually build an ice thickness of three feet, but we saw a thickness of six to eight feet” because of additional waterflow from a broken water main.

With rising temperatures causing fast snowmelt, a channel needed to be opened in the two creeks, or spring runoff would spill onto downtown roads, parks and commercial properties, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

For the first time, city workers opted to try using a zip thaw line — a flexible hose that heats up — to melt the thickened ice along Piper and Waskasoo creeks. Sikora said the hose is usually used to thaw frozen ground for construction projects, but worked just as well on ice.

A 1.5-metre-wide channel was eventually opened in the frozen creeks. But as there was still flooding danger, sand bags were added along creek banks between 48th Avenue and Gaetz Avenue, said Sikora, necessitating a road closure.

Fortunately, these combined measures prevented a widespread flooding disaster. Sikora said the city intends to keep a closer eye on frozen creek culverts and water mains to ensure this scenario doesn’t repeat.

According to Perkins, other efficiencies and innovations undertaken by city staff include:

* Enhanced short-term counselling assistance to first responders to reduce mental health problems from post-traumatic stress, as well as workers’ compensation claims;

* Greening of city transit vehicles to reduce fuel costs by $160,000 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions;

* More in-house engineering work, done without consultants, to save between 30 to 50 per cent on various projects;

* Lessened meetings in the parks department to reduce staff travel time and boost productivity;

* Using a tool that assesses which sewer lines are blocked and which aren’t, saving staff time and effort. Previously, every line was regularly flushed.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Shale oil producer seeking long-term river water supply

A company behind what is billed as Canada’s first commercial shale oil… Continue reading

Red Deer’s crisis line workers are busy dealing with multiple emergencies

Callers need everything from mental health counselling to their basic needs met

Pleaded guilty: Ex-Red Deer teacher gets 3 years for sex offences against kids

SASKATOON — A former Saskatoon teacher who admitted to sexual offences involving… Continue reading

Rental market picking up in Red Deer

There are fewer “for rent” signs in Red Deer than there have… Continue reading

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

CALGARY — The Alberta government is providing a $440 million loan guarantee… Continue reading

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

OTTAWA — The Canada Food Guide’s familiar food rainbow has been replaced… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

Most Read