Waskasoo Creek poses flood hazard

Although many key city-owned properties in Red Deer are outside of the flood hazard zone along the Red Deer River, newly released Alberta flood hazard maps show potential problems along Waskasoo Creek.

Although many key city-owned properties in Red Deer are outside of the flood hazard zone along the Red Deer River, newly released Alberta flood hazard maps show potential problems along Waskasoo Creek.

The creek runs south from the Red Deer River near 45th Avenue and 55th Street and meanders south to the Red Deer Arena, before heading west near the Red Deer Lodge and Safeway near 43rd Street. According to the province’s flood maps, some of these areas where both businesses and residences are located are within the potential flooded areas. These maps are a key component of new proposed policies that will change how provincial assistance is doled out in a flood, and affect what can be developed in a flooding hazard area.

Along the Waskasoo Creek, there is both floodway and flood fringe. The flood fringe indicates areas where water may collect if the water rises above the floodway, which is a rare occurrence.

In that floodway are downtown businesses and homes, mostly between 45th and 46th Streets and Gaetz to 47A Avenue.

Paul Goranson, Red Deer development services director, said the floodway is where there is active water moving. The flood fringe occurs if the creek gets to a certain level, resulting in water ponding in the area.

“We haven’t had discussions with the province yet to find out what expectations they have of us related to this new policy,” said Goranson.

Goranson called the government’s response proactive.

Amanda Gould, Red Deer Downtown Business Association executive director, said she will consult with the downtown businesses, specifically those that could be affected, and City Hall on the upcoming talks between the city and the province.

“What we will be doing is going through it with the city and figuring out a way to communicate the options to the affected members of the DBA,” said Gould.

Some of the affected businesses in the flood fringe area include Safeway and the Red Deer Lodge.

According to an Alberta Municipal Affairs news release, homeowners in flood fringe areas will be eligible for additional funding through the disaster recovery program. This additional money must be spent on approved flood mitigation measures. As well, homeowners within the flood fringe who do not implement measures to protect against a one-in-100-year flood event will not be eligible for disaster recovery program assistance in the event of a future flood. Residents who undertake approved flood mitigation measures will be eligible to receive some assistance if a future flood exceeds the one-in-100-year flood level.

Every now and then, the neighbourhood of Parkvale experiences high water levels. While Virginia Hays’ property is far enough away from the creek that she wasn’t threatened by flooding in 2005, or more this year, she is still concerned about the damage that flooding in Waskasoo Creek can do.

She thinks dredging the creek starting at 43rd Street would go a long way to mitigating potential flood damage in the area.

“If they would dredge that we probably wouldn’t have half the flooding we do in the spring,” said Hays.

Hays and a few other residents clean all through Barrett Park and along the creek edge as part of Green Deer. Haling garbage out of the creek helps, she said.

“Once it gets where the arenas are, that is where it needs to be dredged,” said Hays. “It needs to be cleaned out so the water can flow better. It wouldn’t back up like it does.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com