Communities throughout Central Alberta have been affected by flooding this year and previously, and many may be impacted by proposed provincial policies that would limit development in a flood plain.
While offering money and assistance to develop approved mitigation, the provincial government plans to severely limit future development in flood plains and, for the most part, outright ban such development.
Among those Central Alberta areas affected:
• Sundre was the hardest hit community in Central Alberta by the June flooding. Erin O’Neill, Sundre planning and development manager, said they are waiting to find out what the proposed legislation means.
“We’re currently writing our municipal development plan, so any of that legislation will put it into our MDP,” said O’Neill. “We’re not sure how it is going to affect anyone.”
O’Neill said she thinks the new provincial policy, after consultations with municipalities, will change how the flood plain is looked at.
“The flood plain will become even more prevalent for the planning industry than it was before,” said O’Neill.
• Red Deer County planning and development services director Cynthia Cvik said when they created their new municipal development plan, they took into account flood plains.
“We don’t allow permanent structures to be built within the flood plain,” said Cvik.
“Accessory buildings we will allow and some people will push the situation, but they’re going to have to have a registered professional engineer and architect design something that can be flood-proofed and prove it to us.”
Cvik said that could be very costly. If a person still pushed for development in a flood plain, they may even have to create an emergency response plan.
• Lacombe has had a couple of floods over the past five years and as a result the city invested $3.5 million in improving the storm water management system and the sanitary sewer system.
“We already have designated floodway and flood fringe and we have a map that outlines it,” said Lacombe CAO Norma MacQuarrie.
“In the floodway, we permit no development of any kind and within the flood fringe we have very stringent development guidelines.”
• The Battle River runs through Ponoka and to mitigate any potential flooding, the area around the river is primarily recreation.
Ponoka CAO Brad Watson said they have kept the area as parks and green space and not commercial or residential.
“The Battle River isn’t a typical flooding river, although it can flood quickly because it’s a drainage river,” said Watson. “Even at the peak, there has been a minimal number of housing units that would have been affected.
“One has existed in the flood plain for decades and he opened the front and back doors and the flood waters went through.”
Watson said recreation areas would primarily be approved, but anything else would be heavily scrutinized.