Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Notes from the Mayor's Desk: February 2014

Council and administration have been working behind the scenes meeting with local residents, Mountain View County and the Province to address the flood mitigation and erosion issues that arose after the 2013 flood event.  We have been working very closely with Mountain View County to determine viable solutions and propose solutions to the Government of Alberta.

The Federal and Provincial governments hold responsibility and regulatory authority over changes to any river.  The Provincial government has acted quickly to deal with devastating floods in many communities in Alberta through Disaster Relief Programs.  Sundre has been approved to receive $659,000 to fund 8 flood recovery projects.  Emergency operations costs were reimbursed $175,000, Greenwood Campground damage was $250,000, wastewater and water treatment plant repairs were $80,000, and repair of the rock spurs south of the bridge will cost $70,000.  Also, 10th Street erosion repairs, recreation trail erosion and storm sewer cleaning amounted to $84,000.  We are grateful for the Disaster Recovery Program funds allocated to us for these flood recovery projects.  Efforts are ongoing to complete the listed projects.
Flood Recovery and Erosion Control (FREC) is another Provincial program that we have been seeking clarity about.  In November, 2013, Town Council and County Council representatives met with Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) administration to express concerns of residents and to be sure that we followed guidelines and procedures as set out by FREC.
Councillor Myron Thompson organized a meeting with residents of Sundre and District on January 9th, 2014.  After that meeting, a letter was written to ESRD Minister Robin Campbell requesting that he meet with both local Councils to clarify procedures and plans.  Representatives from Town Council met with Minister Campbell on January 17th to outline community concerns.  Minister Campbell also agreed to meet with Town and County Council before the middle of February.
Since the 2013 flood event, two engineering firms have been studying the river, the effects of the flood, changes in the river basin and potential predictable impacts in another high water event.  Town and County Councils had commissioned those firms separately.  Those research findings were shared with each other as Councils, with the Province at meetings on January 21st and 23rd, and with Associate Minister of Municipal Affairs, Kyle Fawcett, on January 30th.
If this all seems complicated - it is.  To simplify, we have been approved to receive $659,000 from the Province for flood related damage and we are grateful for the support and quick action of our Provincial government. The Town of Sundre and Mountain View County Councils are working together to present solutions for longer term "river mitigation" strategies that will protect residents, property and water quality to local and downstream residents and river users.  Those suggestions are backed by science and research from engineering studies. Nobody wants to "rush to failure" as Minister Fawcett stated.  Not all projects will be completed by June 2014.  Of 40 flood-affected municipalities, 8 have applied for FREC funds of $2.5 billion.  Long-term river mitigation will require Federal as well as Provincial financial support.
We will keep you informed as new information becomes available.  If you would be interested in more detailed information please call me (403-638-3535 at home) and we can set up an open house to provide you with clarity on some of these issues.

Mayor Terry Leslie

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