Flood Risk: A Community Conversation

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Flood Risk: A Community Conservation

October 14, 2020

Community engagement about flood risk is continuing with property owners in Waterways, Ptarmigan Court and Draper.

  • Visits to properties in Waterways below 250.9 m will began last week
  • Visits to properties in Ptarmigan Court will start this week
  • Visits to properties in Draper below 250.9 m will start later in October

“It’s our goal to engage one-on-one with property owners in Ptarmigan Court, as well as property owners below 250.9 m in Waterways and Draper before December,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough. “We are appreciative of the many residents that have already participated in engagement. We need as much dialogue as possible for our next update to Council, so we encourage all property owners to participate.”

All property and land owners in Ptarmigan Court as well as owners below 250.9 m in Waterways and Draper should call or email Pulse at 780-743-7000 or pulse@rmwb.ca to validate contact information and schedule a one-on-one engagement.

One-on-ones can occur in-person, over the phone or electronically.

Contact methods

Outreach will be attempted in the following ways:

  • Door-to-door visits
  • Phone (if phone number has been shared)
  • Email (if email address has been shared)
  • Registered mail to property and land owners, including out-of-town owners
  • Electronic signage
  • Social media messages
  • Website content

Licensed surveyors out in all three communities

Licensed surveyors will be out in Waterways, Ptarmigan Court and Draper starting in mid-October to validate property elevations. Surveyors will require access to some homes. A municipal representative will reach out if access to your home is required.

COVID-19 precautions

One-on-one engagements will be conducted in line with all provincial COVID-19 health and safety protocols.


September 22, 2020

After several days of questions, debate, and public feedback, Council voted to complete berms where feasible and directed more research to be done in Draper and Ptarmigan Court. For Waterways, residents will be engaged on the idea of land swaps below 250 metres.

“The actions directed by Council will reduce flood risk in Fort McMurray over the long term,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough. “Work is underway on temporary flood mitigation measures for next spring and on berms for Taiga Nova, downtown, Longboat Landing and Waterways. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Council meeting and look forward to further engaging with property owners in Ptarmigan Court, Waterways and Draper.”

Actions by community

Council met for several hours a day between Tuesday, September 15 and Friday, September 18 to provide the following direction:

  • Taiga Nova: Complete the berm to the 1-in-200-year flood level by October 15, 2021, limit development below 250 metres and introduce enhanced land use provisions above 250 metres.
  • Ptarmigan Court: Conduct one-on-one engagements with residents to determine whether buyouts, funding to raise properties to 250 metres or land swaps would work best.
  • Downtown: Complete the berm to the 1-in-200-year flood level by October 15, 2022, limit development below 250 metres and introduce enhanced land use provisions above 250 metres. Additionally, advocate on behalf of residents to the province and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
  • Waterways: Complete the berm by October 15, 2022, limit development below 250 metres and introduce enhanced land use provisions above 250 metres. Additionally, engage on the idea of land swaps below 250 metres and advocate on behalf of residents to the province and IBC.
  • Draper: Conduct one-on-one engagements to gather information, including property elevation, administration is engaging on other forms of flood mitigation. Additionally, advocate on behalf of residents to the province and IBC.
  • Longboat Landing: Complete the berm to the 1-in-200-year flood level by October 15, 2021, limit land development below 250 metres, and introduce enhanced flood provisions for land use above 250 metres. Additionally, advocate on behalf of residents to the province and IBC.

As well, on the final day of the meeting, Monday, September 21, Council voted to:

  1. Seek further flood mitigation funding from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada, and report back to Council during the quarterly financial report with a buyout impact assessment, financial report, and updated planning and infrastructure recommendations for communities impacted by the 2020 flood.
  2. Send letters and conduct a strategic advocacy campaign to the federal and provincial governments advocating for assistance with flood mitigation costs and that Administration report back to Council publicly during the quarterly financial reporting, and that the advocacy campaign be funded by any operating surplus or emerging issues.
  3. Actively investigate and pursue the use of equipment, similar to the Amphibex program, and report back to Council with a recommendation by June 2021 on whether or not a pilot project is recommended for the Municipality.
  4. That Administration arrange a meeting within the next 30 days between Council and OSCA to discuss synergies to address the flood mitigation projects to protect the community from future flooding events.
  5. Refund permit fees for work done in the Mandatory Flood Evacuation Zone and purchased after the August 31, 2020 expiration of the Flood Recovery Response Bylaw. The refund is at the request of the applicant.

Council meeting information agenda and information is available at rmwb.ca/council. Flood Recovery information is posted at rmwb.ca/recovery.


September 9, 2020

Flood Risk: A Community Conversation Engagement Report for the period July 29 – September 1, 2020 is now available for review. This report identifies the goals of this stage of engagement, the tools used to communicate the engagement opportunities (eg. direct mail, social media, billboards, etc.), the different methods used to collect feedback (eg. open houses, Participate Wood Buffalo, etc.) and the feedback that we received (there are general themes, neighbourhood themes, as well as the raw data that we collected).

You can find the report here, in the Library section under Engagement Reports.


September 2, 2020

On September 1, over 5,000 people participated in the Telephone Townhall to continue the conversation on flood risk. Results of three polls hosted during the Townhall can be found here. A recording of the full session will be posted at rmwb.ca/townhall in the coming days.

Remember to participate in the Council Meeting on September 15, 2020.


August 27, 2020

Over the past few weeks, we've spoken with just over 350 residents from flood-impacted areas of Fort McMurray, Waterways and Draper at the Open House events. From Pulse inquiries, emails to Mayor, Councillors and Administration, communication with the Flood Recovery team, follow-up from Town Halls, meetings in your homes, and feedback posted on this site, we've engaged in conversation with dozens more.

For the time being, we've closed engagement tools on Participate to give us time to review, summarize and prepare reports on what we've heard to help prepare Administration's report back to Council on September 15. In the meantime, continue to reach out by contacting Pulse at 780-743-7000 or 1-800-973-9663, or emailing pulse@rmwb.ca.

Thank you for your input to date. We'll post more opportunities for engagement soon.


August 13, 2020

This week, at the first of a series of Open Houses hosted in Waterways, 160 residents engaged in conversations with Mayor Don Scott, Councillor Krista Balsom, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough, and other members of Administration including Brad McMurdo, Director, and Chris Booth, Manager, Planning & Development; Chris Davis, Acting Director, and others from Legal Services; Dennis Warr, Director, Nasir Qureshi, Senior Manager, and Maureen Nakonechny, Project Manager, Engineering; members of the RMWB Recovery Program Management Team, and staff from the Department of Communications and Stakeholder Relations.

These Open House events are one forum for residents to provide feedback on the proposed flood risk mitigation approaches and the motions identified by Council at the July 28, 2020 meeting, and provide ideas for alternative solutions to risk mitigation. Feedback will help inform the final administrative recommendation, due to be presented to Council in September.

Upcoming Open Houses are scheduled for August 18 & 19 at Snye Park, and August 25 & 26 at MacDonald Island Park. As at Waterways, food and refreshments and child-minding services will be provided. Please register in advance by contacting Pulse at 780-743-7000 or 1-800-973-9663, or emailing pulse@rmwb.ca.

We look forward to welcoming you to these Open Houses! If you aren't able to attend in person, you may wish to join the conversation in the "Virtual" Open House now open. In each area: Taiga Nova & Downtown, Longboat Landing, Ptarmigan Court, Waterways, and Draper we have posted the signage from the Open House events so you can see the information being shared.

Your feedback will help decide how we move forward toward improving community resilience.


August 4, 2020

We are moving into the next stage of engagement about flood risk. While continuing with many of the tactics that have probably become familiar to you by now – Facebook Live, Telephone Townhall, social media and online here at Participate Wood Buffalo – we are pleased to introduce Open Houses, to deepen the conversation with opportunities for face-to-face engagement.

The purpose of the Open House events is to enable face-to-face discussion about the purpose, current status, and intent of the current approach to flood mitigation in Taiga Nova, Downtown Fort McMurray, Longboat Landing, Ptarmigan Court, Waterways and Draper. Subject Matter Experts will be on hand to provide more information about the technical assessment and scoring process used to identify the recommended approaches to flood risk in each area.

The schedule of Open Houses is below. We are asking residents to register in advance, as there will be a maximum number of people admitted at each session. By registering, we hope to also be able to restrict wait times once you arrive - though we will welcome people who have not registered in advance, space permitting.

    • Tuesday, August 11: 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm and 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
    • Wednesday, August 12: 9 am – 10:45 am and 11:00 am - 12:45 pm
    • Tuesday, August 18: 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm and 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
    • Wednesday, August 19: 9 am – 10:45 am and 11:00 am - 12:45 pm
    • Tuesday, August 25: 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm and 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
    • Wednesday, August 26: 9 am – 10:45 am and 11:00 am - 12:45 pm

To register, contact Pulse at 780-743-7000 or 1-800-973-9663, or emailing pulse@rmwb.ca.

We look forward to meeting with you to discuss how we can increase the resiliency of our community.

July 28, 2020

After the flood, the Municipality began work on a report called “Improving Community Resilience: 2020 Overland Flooding Considerations in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.” This report was presented to Council on July 14.

The basis for the report is the 2020 Flood Recovery Campaign Plan.

Residents and business owners are encouraged to read the report. The final recommendation will consider the feedback now being gathered from the community.

The Municipality is committed to providing additional opportunities for public comment prior to any decision on development options for areas at risk of flooding. More engagement opportunities will be announced in the coming days.

June 2020

The 2020 flood had many far-reaching negative impacts on the region – it affected more than 1000 buildings and properties across different areas in Fort McMurray. For many people, the recovery and cleanup process is still happening.

This flood was one of the most significant in our region’s recent history. We are at a very important point in time, where we must take steps to make our neighbourhoods and communities safer while reducing the likelihood of flood risk in the future.

At first glance, this may seem like a near-impossible job. But it’s not. We are already doing many things to make our neighbourhoods safer as part of our flood mitigation strategy. But we have realized that this may not be the only solution that will enhance safety. Over the next period, we are committed to providing meaningful opportunities for dialogue, discussion and input on how we keep these neighbourhoods safe.

There is always risk when building on floodplains, and our recent approach has been to address this risk by building berms. However, this approach cannot guarantee safety or eliminate all risk in the event of a flood exceeding 1-in-100 levels like we had in 2020.   

In early July we issued a survey to outline possible options for land development in the flood affected areas. You can download the survey results here.

Our conversation will require exploring options for how to best manage the flood risk in Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park, downtown, Ptarmigan Court, Waterways and Draper. We are considering a variety of options ranging from continuing with our current approach, land-use regulations, land-swaps or even to buyouts of properties in the floodplain.  We recognize that each area is unique, and the solutions will not be one-size-fits-all. Each area will require a tailored approach.

We have not completed in-depth analysis of any of these approaches, and we want to ensure that the community is part of the conversation.

This is a conversation that involves all people and businesses in the region. We encourage all residents and property owners to fill out the survey below. This survey is one step in an important process of engaging you – and we will be providing other opportunities to connect with us on this important matter in the near future.

October 14, 2020

Community engagement about flood risk is continuing with property owners in Waterways, Ptarmigan Court and Draper.

  • Visits to properties in Waterways below 250.9 m will began last week
  • Visits to properties in Ptarmigan Court will start this week
  • Visits to properties in Draper below 250.9 m will start later in October

“It’s our goal to engage one-on-one with property owners in Ptarmigan Court, as well as property owners below 250.9 m in Waterways and Draper before December,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough. “We are appreciative of the many residents that have already participated in engagement. We need as much dialogue as possible for our next update to Council, so we encourage all property owners to participate.”

All property and land owners in Ptarmigan Court as well as owners below 250.9 m in Waterways and Draper should call or email Pulse at 780-743-7000 or pulse@rmwb.ca to validate contact information and schedule a one-on-one engagement.

One-on-ones can occur in-person, over the phone or electronically.

Contact methods

Outreach will be attempted in the following ways:

  • Door-to-door visits
  • Phone (if phone number has been shared)
  • Email (if email address has been shared)
  • Registered mail to property and land owners, including out-of-town owners
  • Electronic signage
  • Social media messages
  • Website content

Licensed surveyors out in all three communities

Licensed surveyors will be out in Waterways, Ptarmigan Court and Draper starting in mid-October to validate property elevations. Surveyors will require access to some homes. A municipal representative will reach out if access to your home is required.

COVID-19 precautions

One-on-one engagements will be conducted in line with all provincial COVID-19 health and safety protocols.


September 22, 2020

After several days of questions, debate, and public feedback, Council voted to complete berms where feasible and directed more research to be done in Draper and Ptarmigan Court. For Waterways, residents will be engaged on the idea of land swaps below 250 metres.

“The actions directed by Council will reduce flood risk in Fort McMurray over the long term,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough. “Work is underway on temporary flood mitigation measures for next spring and on berms for Taiga Nova, downtown, Longboat Landing and Waterways. I would like to thank everyone who participated in the Council meeting and look forward to further engaging with property owners in Ptarmigan Court, Waterways and Draper.”

Actions by community

Council met for several hours a day between Tuesday, September 15 and Friday, September 18 to provide the following direction:

  • Taiga Nova: Complete the berm to the 1-in-200-year flood level by October 15, 2021, limit development below 250 metres and introduce enhanced land use provisions above 250 metres.
  • Ptarmigan Court: Conduct one-on-one engagements with residents to determine whether buyouts, funding to raise properties to 250 metres or land swaps would work best.
  • Downtown: Complete the berm to the 1-in-200-year flood level by October 15, 2022, limit development below 250 metres and introduce enhanced land use provisions above 250 metres. Additionally, advocate on behalf of residents to the province and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).
  • Waterways: Complete the berm by October 15, 2022, limit development below 250 metres and introduce enhanced land use provisions above 250 metres. Additionally, engage on the idea of land swaps below 250 metres and advocate on behalf of residents to the province and IBC.
  • Draper: Conduct one-on-one engagements to gather information, including property elevation, administration is engaging on other forms of flood mitigation. Additionally, advocate on behalf of residents to the province and IBC.
  • Longboat Landing: Complete the berm to the 1-in-200-year flood level by October 15, 2021, limit land development below 250 metres, and introduce enhanced flood provisions for land use above 250 metres. Additionally, advocate on behalf of residents to the province and IBC.

As well, on the final day of the meeting, Monday, September 21, Council voted to:

  1. Seek further flood mitigation funding from the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada, and report back to Council during the quarterly financial report with a buyout impact assessment, financial report, and updated planning and infrastructure recommendations for communities impacted by the 2020 flood.
  2. Send letters and conduct a strategic advocacy campaign to the federal and provincial governments advocating for assistance with flood mitigation costs and that Administration report back to Council publicly during the quarterly financial reporting, and that the advocacy campaign be funded by any operating surplus or emerging issues.
  3. Actively investigate and pursue the use of equipment, similar to the Amphibex program, and report back to Council with a recommendation by June 2021 on whether or not a pilot project is recommended for the Municipality.
  4. That Administration arrange a meeting within the next 30 days between Council and OSCA to discuss synergies to address the flood mitigation projects to protect the community from future flooding events.
  5. Refund permit fees for work done in the Mandatory Flood Evacuation Zone and purchased after the August 31, 2020 expiration of the Flood Recovery Response Bylaw. The refund is at the request of the applicant.

Council meeting information agenda and information is available at rmwb.ca/council. Flood Recovery information is posted at rmwb.ca/recovery.


September 9, 2020

Flood Risk: A Community Conversation Engagement Report for the period July 29 – September 1, 2020 is now available for review. This report identifies the goals of this stage of engagement, the tools used to communicate the engagement opportunities (eg. direct mail, social media, billboards, etc.), the different methods used to collect feedback (eg. open houses, Participate Wood Buffalo, etc.) and the feedback that we received (there are general themes, neighbourhood themes, as well as the raw data that we collected).

You can find the report here, in the Library section under Engagement Reports.


September 2, 2020

On September 1, over 5,000 people participated in the Telephone Townhall to continue the conversation on flood risk. Results of three polls hosted during the Townhall can be found here. A recording of the full session will be posted at rmwb.ca/townhall in the coming days.

Remember to participate in the Council Meeting on September 15, 2020.


August 27, 2020

Over the past few weeks, we've spoken with just over 350 residents from flood-impacted areas of Fort McMurray, Waterways and Draper at the Open House events. From Pulse inquiries, emails to Mayor, Councillors and Administration, communication with the Flood Recovery team, follow-up from Town Halls, meetings in your homes, and feedback posted on this site, we've engaged in conversation with dozens more.

For the time being, we've closed engagement tools on Participate to give us time to review, summarize and prepare reports on what we've heard to help prepare Administration's report back to Council on September 15. In the meantime, continue to reach out by contacting Pulse at 780-743-7000 or 1-800-973-9663, or emailing pulse@rmwb.ca.

Thank you for your input to date. We'll post more opportunities for engagement soon.


August 13, 2020

This week, at the first of a series of Open Houses hosted in Waterways, 160 residents engaged in conversations with Mayor Don Scott, Councillor Krista Balsom, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Hough, and other members of Administration including Brad McMurdo, Director, and Chris Booth, Manager, Planning & Development; Chris Davis, Acting Director, and others from Legal Services; Dennis Warr, Director, Nasir Qureshi, Senior Manager, and Maureen Nakonechny, Project Manager, Engineering; members of the RMWB Recovery Program Management Team, and staff from the Department of Communications and Stakeholder Relations.

These Open House events are one forum for residents to provide feedback on the proposed flood risk mitigation approaches and the motions identified by Council at the July 28, 2020 meeting, and provide ideas for alternative solutions to risk mitigation. Feedback will help inform the final administrative recommendation, due to be presented to Council in September.

Upcoming Open Houses are scheduled for August 18 & 19 at Snye Park, and August 25 & 26 at MacDonald Island Park. As at Waterways, food and refreshments and child-minding services will be provided. Please register in advance by contacting Pulse at 780-743-7000 or 1-800-973-9663, or emailing pulse@rmwb.ca.

We look forward to welcoming you to these Open Houses! If you aren't able to attend in person, you may wish to join the conversation in the "Virtual" Open House now open. In each area: Taiga Nova & Downtown, Longboat Landing, Ptarmigan Court, Waterways, and Draper we have posted the signage from the Open House events so you can see the information being shared.

Your feedback will help decide how we move forward toward improving community resilience.


August 4, 2020

We are moving into the next stage of engagement about flood risk. While continuing with many of the tactics that have probably become familiar to you by now – Facebook Live, Telephone Townhall, social media and online here at Participate Wood Buffalo – we are pleased to introduce Open Houses, to deepen the conversation with opportunities for face-to-face engagement.

The purpose of the Open House events is to enable face-to-face discussion about the purpose, current status, and intent of the current approach to flood mitigation in Taiga Nova, Downtown Fort McMurray, Longboat Landing, Ptarmigan Court, Waterways and Draper. Subject Matter Experts will be on hand to provide more information about the technical assessment and scoring process used to identify the recommended approaches to flood risk in each area.

The schedule of Open Houses is below. We are asking residents to register in advance, as there will be a maximum number of people admitted at each session. By registering, we hope to also be able to restrict wait times once you arrive - though we will welcome people who have not registered in advance, space permitting.

    • Tuesday, August 11: 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm and 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
    • Wednesday, August 12: 9 am – 10:45 am and 11:00 am - 12:45 pm
    • Tuesday, August 18: 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm and 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
    • Wednesday, August 19: 9 am – 10:45 am and 11:00 am - 12:45 pm
    • Tuesday, August 25: 4:00 pm – 5:45 pm and 6:00 pm - 7:45 pm
    • Wednesday, August 26: 9 am – 10:45 am and 11:00 am - 12:45 pm

To register, contact Pulse at 780-743-7000 or 1-800-973-9663, or emailing pulse@rmwb.ca.

We look forward to meeting with you to discuss how we can increase the resiliency of our community.

July 28, 2020

After the flood, the Municipality began work on a report called “Improving Community Resilience: 2020 Overland Flooding Considerations in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.” This report was presented to Council on July 14.

The basis for the report is the 2020 Flood Recovery Campaign Plan.

Residents and business owners are encouraged to read the report. The final recommendation will consider the feedback now being gathered from the community.

The Municipality is committed to providing additional opportunities for public comment prior to any decision on development options for areas at risk of flooding. More engagement opportunities will be announced in the coming days.

June 2020

The 2020 flood had many far-reaching negative impacts on the region – it affected more than 1000 buildings and properties across different areas in Fort McMurray. For many people, the recovery and cleanup process is still happening.

This flood was one of the most significant in our region’s recent history. We are at a very important point in time, where we must take steps to make our neighbourhoods and communities safer while reducing the likelihood of flood risk in the future.

At first glance, this may seem like a near-impossible job. But it’s not. We are already doing many things to make our neighbourhoods safer as part of our flood mitigation strategy. But we have realized that this may not be the only solution that will enhance safety. Over the next period, we are committed to providing meaningful opportunities for dialogue, discussion and input on how we keep these neighbourhoods safe.

There is always risk when building on floodplains, and our recent approach has been to address this risk by building berms. However, this approach cannot guarantee safety or eliminate all risk in the event of a flood exceeding 1-in-100 levels like we had in 2020.   

In early July we issued a survey to outline possible options for land development in the flood affected areas. You can download the survey results here.

Our conversation will require exploring options for how to best manage the flood risk in Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park, downtown, Ptarmigan Court, Waterways and Draper. We are considering a variety of options ranging from continuing with our current approach, land-use regulations, land-swaps or even to buyouts of properties in the floodplain.  We recognize that each area is unique, and the solutions will not be one-size-fits-all. Each area will require a tailored approach.

We have not completed in-depth analysis of any of these approaches, and we want to ensure that the community is part of the conversation.

This is a conversation that involves all people and businesses in the region. We encourage all residents and property owners to fill out the survey below. This survey is one step in an important process of engaging you – and we will be providing other opportunities to connect with us on this important matter in the near future.