City seeking cash from provincial government for flood prevention projects

The City of Red Deer has asked the province to pay for $69.3 million worth of flood-related projects.

The City of Red Deer has asked the province to pay for $69.3 million worth of flood-related projects.

Two projects – extending the McKenzie Trail berm and raising the Wastewater Treatment Plant lagoon – have been fully funded to the tune of $667,000 under the flood erosion program. A total of $414,239 has been awarded for supplies and equipment.

Director of Development Services Elaine Vincent told council on Monday that after last year’s flooding events the province introduced programs for municipalities to seek flooding assistance.

The city applied for funding under three provincial flood programs and has received funding from two.

Vincent said the city has not heard anything from the province on receipt or approval on the projects totalling $68.2 million which include long-term and non-critical mitigation projects.

Acting city manager Paul Goranson said the city is well protected under the one in 100 year flood level criteria. He said the province has asked municipalities to make a list for improvements that could be made should the water levels exceeded what the city has planned for flooding mitigation and has experienced.

Among the long-term projects are stabilizing Riverview and Waskasoo Creek banks, more wastewater and water treatment plant projection, flood risk mapping and building an off-stream storage.

Coun. Paul Harris questioned the absence of prevention in the laundry list of projects. Harris raised concerns about the impact of climate change and the assumption that the flooding would come from the Red Deer River.

“All these projects are about how we mitigate based on the assumption the water is going to run off,” said Harris. “There doesn’t seem to be any projects that look at prevention and other ways of handling water … systemic changes that really need to be made rather than just assuming we can build our communities the same way that we have always built and believe they will be able to handle the water.”

Vincent said that the city is currently working on its climate change adaptation strategy which will be finished by the end of this year and could affect the way the city does business and planning.

Coun. Lawrence Lee asked how the projects made the shortlist and whether council will have opportunity to discuss specific projects.

Vincent said the city looked at the criteria for the grants and multiple tools including city studies, external consultants and provincial mapping information in order to decide where the city’s energy and effort should be put into.

Vincent said if the city does not receive any provincial grants, the city will have to have a strategic conversation and align it with the climate change adaptation strategy to ensure overall community readiness. The city hopes to hear from the province in the coming months.

The city will start work on the McKenzie Trail berm and lagoon raising projects in the next four to six weeks. During the 2005 and 2013, there was considerable flooding damage to the McKenzie Trail Recreation Area and homes in the area were affected.

Other council notes:

— Council stepped up its advocacy efforts passing several resolutions that may be on the floor at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference in September.

One such resolution urged the province to increase Family and Community Support Services funding commensurate to population growth and annual inflations to ensure sustainability of the programs. FCSS funding has stayed the same for eight years in the province.

Coun. Ken Johnston, a council representative on the local FCSS board, talked about the gap in funding locally where the board was awarded $1.9 million from the province but received $3.1 million in asks from Central Alberta agencies. Johnston added a clause that urges the province to explore and link early intervention programs funded by FCSS and social agencies and crime prevention. Johnston told council he is frustrated that the province is not linking crime prevention and social programming together.

“Crime continues to be the number one health-care issue in the province when you think about crimes of substance abuse, crimes of spousal abuse,” said Johnston. “FCSS provides preventative programs so that offenders at an early age are given enough opportunity and education and enough options with their lives so they don’t have to turn to things like substance abuse or spousal abuse and that ends up costing society.”

Council also advocated for Alberta 211, a service that connects callers to a full range of social, health and community and government services, to be rolled out and funded across the province. It is currently available in a handful of communities.

Coun. Frank Wong said many seniors and agencies have been waiting for this service for a long time.

— A report on the urban chicken pilot project was tabled for four weeks to allow administration to prepare a report.

— Council tabled a decision on re-naming the Memorial Centre until June 21 after a targeted consultation with veterans groups in the city.

— Council delayed giving first reading to a land use bylaw that would allow small-lot homes with front-attached double garages available city wide. Councillors wanted some revisions and directed administration to come back to council with a report in up to four weeks. Administration would explore the impacts of changing the depth of RIG (small) lots to 33 metre from 30 metre and changing the front yard setback to a minimum of three metres for RIN (narrow) lots.

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