Calgary ends state of local emergency as flood risk recedes in Alberta

WATCH: Calgary mayor Joyti Gondek announced Friday that the city would cancel the state of local emergency and remove the temporary berm on Memorial Drive as the flood forecast for the city improves. Adam MacVicar reports.

The risk of flooding in Calgary due to already high rivers and high rainfall has passed, leading the city to lift its state of local emergency earlier than expected.

“The weather system that we were concerned about is expected to stay well south of us. So for that reason, we have lifted the state of local emergency,” Mayor Jyoti Gondek said on Friday.

But the risks from those rivers remain, leading city officials to remind citizens to stay away from the Bow and Elbow rivers. The city’s boating advisory – prohibiting boats on the waterways – remains in place.

City officials said the rivers’ peaks passed on Wednesday after multiple days of heavy rain over the weekend.

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No major flooding happening at this time: Alberta government

A berm put in place across Memorial Drive to protect the Sunnyside community will be coming down in the next couple of days, with Gondek saying it should be cleared from that east-west roadway by Monday morning.

Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Sue Henry said the berm protected tens of millions of dollars worth of private and public property.

Officials confirmed it cost $115,000 to build, a partial disassembly cost $17,000 and the full cost to tear it down will be determined after the work is done.

She added the city weighed the effects of halting 24,000 cars per day along the riverfront drive with protecting those properties.

The weather system City of Calgary officials were watching carefully will be blown south of the city. Earlier forecasts showed the possibility of heavy rains that could have burst the banks of the city’s estuaries. But Francois Bouchart, a director of the city’s water department, said Calgary is now expected to get less rain through the weekend.

“The risk has dissipated partly because the jetstream is tracking south of us,” Bouchart said. “We are seeing the jetstream tracking south of us, taking that system actually further south.”

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Henry responded to criticisms of the city’s response to the flood threat by saying “this is preparedness.”

“There comes a point in response where you have to make a decision because things take time to put into place,” the CEMA chief said. “And the reality is, as a city, we would rather be more prepared (and) take the chance that something doesn’t occur based on very, very sound predictive information, than be in a position where we didn’t act fast enough and something did occur.”

Calgary’s flood season usually lasts until mid-July.

Earlier on Friday, the Alberta government issued its final update to the most recent flooding threats in the province.

The government said although some areas received “significant rainfall” causing some localized flooding, no major flooding was reported.

Flood watches remain for Pipestone River, Little Red Deer River and Clearwater River.

High streamflow advisories are in place for Brazeau River, Ram River, Prairie Creek, Baptiste River and Nordegg River.

A number of provincial parks or sections of parks remain closed:

  • Elk Creek provincial recreation area
  • Ram Falls Provincial Park
  • Crescent Falls campground
  • Seven Mile provincial recreation area
  • Prairie Creek provincial recreation area
  • Tay River provincial recreation area
  • Medicine Lake provincial recreation area
  • Red Lodge Provincial Park
  • Strachan provincial recreation area
  • Willow Creek group use campground in Cypress Hills Provincial Park
  • lower gate access roads to Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park
  • access roads to Fish Creek Provincial Park (Bebo Grove and Bridge Three pathway)

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