Flood Risk: A Community Conversation

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

Thank you to those who participated in this engagement. You can learn more about this project below, or subscribe to Participate Wood Buffalo to stay connected (or get involved) with future engagement projects impacting our region.

Flood Risk: A Community Conservation

Updates to this project page are discontinued. For ongoing information about flood mitigation visit rmwb.ca/floodmitigation


On April 26, 2020, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo suffered a flood to the 1-in-100 year elevation. Structural flood mitigation is built and designed to the 1-in-100 year elevation, however unpredictable ice jam floods occurred in many low lying neighbourhoods.

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

Updates to this project page are discontinued. For ongoing information about flood mitigation visit rmwb.ca/floodmitigation


On April 26, 2020, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo suffered a flood to the 1-in-100 year elevation. Structural flood mitigation is built and designed to the 1-in-100 year elevation, however unpredictable ice jam floods occurred in many low lying neighbourhoods.

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.

This is a conversation that involves all people and businesses in the region. We encourage all residents and property owners to participate in the various engagements through this website.

Discussions: All (6) Open (0)
  • Council Motions on Flood Mitigation

    over 2 years ago
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

    Tell us your feedback on the following Motions regarding flood mitigation passed by Council at the Special Meeting on July 28:

    Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park: Prepare structural flood mitigation options, including investigating cost of a higher level of flood protection, limit development below 250m, and introduce enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw for development above 250m.

    Downtown: Continue with the Municipality’s approved structural flood mitigation project, including investigating cost of a higher level of flood protection, limit development below 250m, and introduce enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw for development above 250m.

    Longboat Landing: Complete the technical assessment for Longboat Landing and continue engagement with property owners regarding potential buyouts for properties under 250m and to bring back to Council any additional issues identified in the technical assessment, including investigating cost of a higher level of flood protection.

    Waterways: Engage with property owners in areas under 250m regarding buyouts or other options to raise properties to 250m and introduce enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw for development above 250m, investigate a higher level of flood protection and explore and present what commitments were made to Waterways residents in the past.

    Ptarmigan Court: Engage with property owners regarding buyouts or other options to raise properties to 250m.

    Draper: Engage with property owners regarding buyouts or other options to raise properties to 250m and for administration to report back separating flood issues from slope stability issues and to investigate a higher level of flood protection. 

  • Land Development Options: Downtown

    over 2 years ago
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    CLOSED: This discussion has concluded. Thanks for your input. More forum discussion topics coming soon.

    The preferred approach is to continue with the Municipality’s structural flood mitigation project, in addition to limiting development below 250m, while at the same time introducing enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw.

    For more information regarding the downtown evaluation, continue reading below.

    Downtown consists of small to large-scale commercial, residential and institutional uses spread across more than 6,600 parcels with buildings of varying age and intensity. Important facilities and services include Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, Willow Square Continuing Care, Keyano College, Composite High School, Dr. Karl A. Clark Elementary, Father Turcotte Omi School, and a plethora of critical social profits. Infrastructure such as lift stations provide service to Abasand, Beacon Hill, and other southern portions of Fort McMurray. Downtown functions as the administrative and retail heart of not only Fort McMurray but the entire region. Owing to its central location, Downtown acts as a bridge between the northern and southern areas of Fort McMurray, providing residents on either side of town with a short and direct trip. During the 2020 flood, 2753 properties were impacted. Flood mitigation is partially complete for Reach 1-4, and underway for Reach 5-9. Refer to Appendix C for a full community profile.


    Key Points

    1. Flood mitigation is significantly underway (Reaches 1 – 9), with plans to protect the entire Downtown area. Some reaches have been completed, some are under construction or construction will start in summer 2020, and some are still in the design stage.
    2. Remaining components of flood mitigation are currently expected to cost $70 million, based on current market conditions. Costs have been decreasing compared to initial budgeted amount.
    3. Population of Downtown is 10,993 as of the 2018 Census and consists of 6,231 private properties.
    4. 4374 private properties (70% of the total) below 250m, of which 2582 (41.44%) were affected by the flood.
    5. 1857 private properties (30% of the total) above 250m, of which 44 (0.71%) were affected by the flood. 
    6. Very few private properties were damaged or destroyed during the Horse River Wildfire, none of which were in the flood affected area.
    7. In our region, this is an area that presents the greatest degree of concern with respect to the “levee effect” whereby residents and businesses behind the berm may feel a false sense of security. This confidence may lead to further investment in the flood hazard area, ultimately increasing damages and costs arising from a future flood that the berm was unable to withstand.


    Proposed Approach for Downtown

    The preferred approach is to continue with the Municipality’s structural flood mitigation project, in addition to limiting development below 250m, while at the same time introducing enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw. The flood mitigation program is already substantially underway, but since it is only being built to withstand a 1:100 year flood event, it is advisable to resist further intensification of areas below 250m so as to avoid substantial further increases in damage should the berm fail or be overtopped. The Land Use Bylaw provisions should apply up to a higher flood elevation (such as the 1:200) so that new development above 250m can be afforded a higher degree of protection from a flood event that exceeds the 1:100.

    A full buyout also creates an array of consequences, including drastically altering Fort McMurray’s traffic patterns. There exist two locations that could potentially accommodate a relocated downtown: Parsons Creek to the north and Saline Creek to the south. Both areas contemplate a full range of land uses, from residential to institutional, to commercial (including small scale retail and big box). A significant shift in the location of downtown services and employment lands will require employees and patrons to utilize the transportation network in different ways, likely creating additional stresses on roadways in other parts of the city.

    Since prohibiting new development below 250m will sterilize some vacant parcels downtown, it could be viewed as a form of down-zoning. Consequently, the Municipality may have to consider buying out those vacant parcels. Should buyouts be undesirable, the second preferred approach could be continuing with the flood mitigation project and introducing Land Use Bylaw provisions that require all new development to adhere to flood-proofing measures (i.e. raising utility rooms, mechanical equipment and habitable or occupiable space) within a prescribed flood level. That flood level could be increased from the minimum 1:100-year standard to a higher standard such as the 1:200 if desired. Doing so would ensure that at least a minimum level of additional protection is offered, reducing full reliance on the berm (deriving too much comfort from the presence of a berm or any other structural protection is known colloquially as the “levee effect”).

    Substantial portions of Downtown lie below the 250m contour, and a significant amount of investment has been made there in recent years. Existing development would be grandfathered but, to provide owners some flexibility, they could be permitted to make interior changes and minor exterior modifications, provided the exterior modifications do not exceed a maximum threshold (so as to limit future damages). New buildings would not be permitted below the 250m contour.

    While buyouts offer greater community resiliency, the extraordinary cost of even a buyout of lands below 250m is prohibitively expensive and could place the Municipality in financial risk. Per capita costs of a buyout below 250m amount to at least $16,400 and to almost $24,000 for a full buyout, likely making both objectionable to taxpayers. The CSA 31000-10 requires treatment options to be assessed with a view to whether any new risks arise from the selected option; selecting such an option would present an unacceptable financial risk with negative consequences on the quality of life of all local residents and businesses, not just those in the flood hazard areas.

    The policy for Downtown will be to maintain its central role and function in Fort McMurray and the RMWB while implementing as many structural and non-structural safety precautions as possible to protect lives and property. Opportunity exists to set a higher Land Use Bylaw standard for the flood level, i.e. 1:200, which is more in keeping with minimum standards throughout the rest of the country, and would increase community resiliency for those areas above the current 1:100. Potential future uses will be more of the same: commercial, residential and institutional development. 


    What degree of residual risk remains from overland flooding?

    Risk of flooding still remains since no properties are being removed from the hazard area. Flood mitigation is only being constructed to the 1:100-year level, so it is only a matter of time before the berm is overtopped by a higher flood event or suffers a failure. Land Use Bylaw provisions are only intended to protect sensitive mechanical systems, and require habitable floor space to be above the 250m level; they will not necessary protect the building from being flooded, so damage will still likely occur to interior spaces, particularly on the ground level.


    What was the cost of the risk reduction?

    The cost of this treatment option is estimated to be up to $70 million. This cost is largely attributable to the remaining work on the unfinished portions of the flood mitigation project. Implementing regulatory changes through the Land Use Bylaw carries minimal costs and are carried out during Administration’s typical  operations.


    What new risks (if any) are generated by the risk treatment?

    No known new risks are created.


    Discussion Points within this forum:

    Do you agree that continuing with the Municipality’s structural flood mitigation project, in addition to limiting development below 250m, while at the same time introducing enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw  is the best solution for downtown? Why or why not?

    Have you talked to your neighbours about your preferred approach? What did they say? Were you in agreement?

    From your perspective, is there anything that you feel was missed in the evaluation (found in the report here)?

  • Land Development Options: Taiga Nova

    over 2 years ago
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    CLOSED: This discussion has concluded. Thanks for your input. More forum discussion topics coming soon.

    The preferred approach is to constructing new flood mitigation and enhancing existing berms, in addition to limiting development below 250m, while at the same time introducing enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw

    For more information regarding the downtown evaluation, continue reading below.

    Taiga Nova and the surrounding area along Highway 63 employs a considerable number of people, as it is comprised entirely of commercial and light industrial lands. In its present location, it provides services for the oil industry (i.e. Diversified bussing, ACDEN head offices, lodging for visitors, and equipment rental). It consists of 15 medium to large-scale businesses on 81 private parcels. Many can be found lining both sides of Highway 63, but the majority are located in an eco-industrial park with high architectural and site design standards. Out of the 81 properties in this area, 42 were impacted by the 2020 flood. Flood mitigation includes an existing berm flanking the Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park, but further improvement to the berm may be necessary.


    Key Points

    1. Flood mitigation currently exists around the Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park, but the broader area along the shoreline of the Athabasca River is not included in the Municipality’s current Flood Mitigation Strategy and lacks any structural protection.
    2. The stretch of Highway 63 between Taiga Nova and the Confederation Way interchange is also within the 1:100 flood level, presenting a threat to mobility in the event of a significant flood.
    3. New berms and enhancement of the existing Taiga Nova berm are expected to cost at least $25.2 million, based on current market conditions.
    4. No residential uses, but it consists of 81 private properties and is home to 65 businesses and hundreds of employees. 35 businesses impacted by the flood reported having almost 700 employees pre-flood.
    5. 66 private properties (81% of the total) are below the 250m elevation, of which 42 (52%) were affected by the 2020 flood.
    6. 15 private properties (19% of the total) are above the 250m elevation, of which none were affected by the 2020 flood.


    Proposed Approach for Taiga Nova & Area

    The preferred approach is to construct new flood mitigation and enhance existing berms, in addition to limiting development below 250m, while at the same time introducing enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw. The Taiga Nova Eco-Industrial Park is already protected by a berm, and further structural protection and enhancements could be provided. However, as it would only withstand a 1:100-year flood event, it is advisable to resist further intensification of areas below 250m to avoid substantial further increases in damage should the berm fail or be overtopped. The Land Use Bylaw provisions should apply up to a higher flood elevation (such as the 1:200) so that new development above 250m can be afforded a higher degree of protection from a flood event that exceeds the 1:100.

    Portions of Taiga Nova and the surrounding area lie below the 250m contour, and a significant amount of investment has been made there in recent years. Existing development would be grandfathered but, to provide owners some flexibility, they could be permitted to make interior changes and minor exterior modifications, provided the exterior modifications do not exceed a maximum threshold (so as to limit future damages). New buildings would not be permitted below the 250m contour.

    While buyouts offer greater community resiliency, the extraordinary cost of even a buyout of lands below 250m is very expensive and could place the Municipality in financial risk. Per capita costs of a buyout below 250m amount to at least $4,337 and to almost $6,000 for a full buyout, likely making both objectionable to taxpayers. The CSA 31000-10 requires treatment options to be assessed with a view to whether any new risks arise from the selected option; selecting such an option would present financial risk with potentially negative consequences on the quality of life of all local residents and businesses, not just those in the flood hazard areas.

    A full buyout also creates an array of consequences, including a significant change in traffic patterns. The only shovel-ready industrial and commercial land available to accommodate the businesses in Taiga Nova & Area are on the south side of Fort McMurray. This would require employees – many of whom may live in Parsons Creek, Timberlea and Thickwood – to travel south to the other end of Fort McMurray, increasing their commute times and even the chances of a traffic accident.

    Since prohibiting new development below 250m will sterilize vacant parcels, it could be viewed as a form of down-zoning. Consequently, the Municipality may have to consider buying out those vacant parcels. Should buyouts be undesirable, the second preferred approach could be continuing with the flood mitigation project and introducing Land Use Bylaw provisions that require all new development to adhere to flood-proofing measures (i.e. raising utility rooms, mechanical equipment and habitable or occupiable space) within a prescribed flood level. That flood level could be increased from the minimum 1:100-year standard to a higher standard such as the 1:200 if desired. Doing so would ensure that at least a minimum level of additional protection is offered, reducing full reliance on the berm (deriving too much comfort from the presence of a berm or any other structural protection is known colloquially as the “levee effect”).

    The proposed policy for Taiga Nova & Area is to maintain the area’s role as northern Fort McMurray’s primary industrial area, home to many industrial support services critical to the success of the oil sands, Fort McMurray and the region. Opportunity exists to set a higher standard for the flood level, i.e. 1:200, which is more in keeping with minimum standards throughout the rest of the country and would increase community resiliency for those areas above the current 1:100.

    Potential future uses will be more of the same: commercial and industrial.


    What degree of residual risk remains from overland flooding?

    Risk of flooding still remains since no properties are being removed from the hazard area. Flood mitigation is only being constructed to the 1:100-year level, so it is only a matter of time before the berm is overtopped by a higher flood event or suffers a failure. Land Use Bylaw provisions are only intended to protect sensitive mechanical systems, and require habitable floor space to be above the 250m level; they will not necessary protect the building from being flooded, so damage will still likely occur to interior spaces, particularly on the ground level.


    What was the cost of the risk reduction?

    The cost of this treatment option is estimated to be at least $25.2 million. This cost is largely attributable to constructing new flood mitigation along the Athabasca River, and enhancing the existing berm at Taiga Nova. While this estimate considers existing conditions, design and construction work, it is only an estimate and is subject to change once more detailed study has taken place.


    What new risks (if any) are generated by the risk treatment?

    No new known risks are anticipated.


    Discussion Points within this forum:

    • Do you agree that constructing new flood mitigation and enhancing existing berms, in addition to limiting development below 250m, while at the same time introducing enhanced flood provisions in the Land Use Bylaw is the best solution for Taiga Nova? Why or Why not?
    • Have you talked to your neighbours about your preferred approach? What did they say? Were you in agreement?From your perspective, is there anything that you feel was missed in the evaluation?
    • From your perspective, is there anything that you feel was missed in the evaluation (found in the report here)?
  • Land Development Options: Ptarmigan Court

    over 2 years ago
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    CLOSED: This discussion has concluded. Thanks for your input. More forum discussion topics coming soon.

    The preferred approach is to Buyout of all Properties.

    For more information regarding the downtown evaluation, continue reading below.

    Ptarmigan Court consists of 70 private lots occupied with manufactured homes, most of which were recently replaced after the 2016 Horse River Wildfire. All developed properties were impacted by the 2020 flood. Mitigation considered a variety of techniques, including a demountable wall and berm. Studies to-date indicate that a demountable wall is not a technically acceptable solution, and there is no other structural flood mitigation solution which does not impact on the current footprint of this community. 


    Key Points

    • Studies to-date indicate that there is no structural flood mitigation solution for Ptarmigan Court which does not impact the current footprint of this community.
    • Flood mitigation is estimated to cost at least $22.8 million.
    • Population of Ptarmigan Court is included within Waterways (population 232) in the 2018 Census.
    • 68 private properties (99% of the total) are below the 250m elevation, of which 49 are developed.
    • 1 private property (1% of the total) is above the 250m elevation but is vacant.
    • 51 private properties (74%) were affected during the Horse River Wildfire, of which 33 have rebuilt (48%).


    Proposed Approach for Ptarmigan Court

    The preferred approach is Buyout of all Properties and potential land swap. This option sees all 69 private residential properties removed from the flood hazard area. Not only is the installation of flood mitigation more expensive than the minimum buyout costs but installing flood mitigation may require buyout of some riverfront properties regardless. This option provides the maximum community resilience by removing residents from the flood hazard area so that neither they nor the Municipality have to contend with future disaster remediation costs.


    The proposed policy for Ptarmigan Court is to pursue maximum community resilience by removing residents from the hazard area.


    Potential future uses are more limited owing to the area’s smaller size but may include parkland or a naturalized area.


    What degree of residual risk remains from overland flooding?

    Little residual risk remains, as private properties and structures have been removed from the hazard area. Residual risks would be limited to remediation of any future parkland that may be established in the area.


    What was the cost of the risk reduction?

    Achieving this risk reduction carries no additional cost to taxpayers, owing to the cost-savings realized by not providing flood protection. This does not include the cost of procuring land for a land swap, as this is an optional step which may or may not be pursued; it therefore does not affect the evaluation of this risk treatment.


    Reclamation costs are estimated to be about $7.8 million, but a significant portion (nearly $3 million) comprises grading and landscaping. These costs would depend on the future use of the area and may not need to be included if the area is allowed to return to its natural state.


    Minor cost savings would be realized as municipal services (water, sewer, road maintenance, garbage pickup, etc.) need not be provided in future years.


    What new risks (if any) are generated by the risk treatment?

    No new risks are anticipated by buying out the area.


    Discussion Points within this forum:

    • Do you agree that the Buyout of all Properties and potential land swap is the best solution for Ptarmigan Court? Why or Why not?
    • Have you talked to your neighbours about your preferred approach? What did they say? Were you in agreement?
    • From your perspective, is there anything that you feel was missed in the evaluation (found in the report here)?
    • How do you feel about relocation? Would you stay in the region if your home was bought out? Would you prefer that a new community be formed, or would you prefer to move to an existing home in region?
  • Land Development Options: Waterways

    over 2 years ago
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    CLOSED: This discussion has concluded. Thanks for your input. More forum discussion topics coming soon.

    The preferred approach is to enhanced Land Use Bylaw Provisions and Buyout Below 250m.

    For more information regarding the downtown evaluation, continue reading below.

    Waterways historically served as the original settlement area in Fort McMurray and is the site of the Royal Canadian Legion and Athabasca Tribal Council offices. It consists of 162 private properties, 145 of which were impacted by the 2016 Horse River Wildfire. As of June 2020, 77 homes have been rebuilt. 64 properties were impacted by the 2020 flood. Flood mitigation in the form of a berm is partially complete for Reaches 10-11, and plans exist to connect to the Secondary Egress Road into Saline Creek.


    Key Points

    1. Structural flood mitigation is planned for this community (Reaches 10 & 11) but construction has not begun.
    2. Flood mitigation is estimated to cost at least $20 million. It is part of a larger project to tie into the Saline Creek Secondary Egress Road which is also anticipated to cost $20 million, bringing the total cost of this project to approximately $40 million.
    3. Population is 232 as of the 2018 Census and consists of 164 private properties.
    4. 94 private properties (48% of the total) are below the 250m elevation, of which 43 are developed.
    5. 68 private properties (42% of the total) are above the 250m elevation, of which 48 are developed.
    6. 140 private properties (90%) were affected during the Horse River Wildfire, of which 73 have rebuilt (45%).


    Proposed Approach for Waterways

    The preferred approach is enhanced Land Use Bylaw Provisions and Buyout Below 250m with the opportunity for a land swap. This option sees 94 properties removed from the flood hazard area, while 68 would remain on land that is above the 1:100 flood level. This option removes the properties most at risk of flooding. The Land Use Bylaw provisions should apply to a higher flood elevation (such as the 1:200) so that new development above the 250m can be afforded a higher degree of protection from a flood event that exceeds the 1:100.

    The second preferred option is a complete buyout of all properties. This option scored higher, but may still be considered for the following reasons (this option tied with Flood Mitigation, LUB Provisions & Limited Development below 250m, but in the event of a tie, the option that provides greater overall resilience is selected):

    i. It is the safest solution from a life-safety perspective. If the area was not fully bought out, residents on higher land would be without road access during a future 1:100 or higher flood event (roads leading to some portions of the community are below 250m and would be inundated by floodwaters). First responders would have difficulty accessing properties and would be putting their own lives in danger if the need to access a flooded property arose. 

    The RMWB may choose not to proceed with the remainder of the planned flood mitigation in Waterways, budgeted at about $20 million. This would offset a portion of the buyout cost. This cost saving excludes the tie-in to the Saline Creek Secondary Egress Road. Were this egress road to also be terminated, the cost savings would rise to $40M, as the tie-in to that road would no longer be required.

    Existing underground infrastructure has outlived its life cycle and needs to be replaced. Further, after the 2016 Horse River Wildfire, there was discussion regarding the possibility of burying overhead power lines as is commonplace in other areas of Fort McMurray. Costs for this work have not been determined.

    Existing infrastructure will not need to be continually maintained to service the remaining population. Further, a partial buyout of the community may increase servicing and maintenance costs for underground infrastructure, as the current infrastructure is designed for larger volumes and may not adequately perform with lesser volume/flows. A patchwork of remaining houses could be avoided, along with the associated disjointed appearance.

    The proposed policy for Waterways is partial avoidance of flood risk by removing those exposed to 1:100-year flood events from the hazard area. 

    Potential future use of the areas bought out below 250m may include parkland. This new park space could be integrated into the current riverfront parkland.

    If a complete buyout of all properties is pursued, opportunity exists for the Municipality to establish a sizeable festival ground or park space. Further opportunity exists to incorporate historical sites commemorating the shipping, rail and industrial heritage of Waterways.


    What degree of residual risk remains from overland flooding?

    Remaining residents will still be at risk from future floods, particularly if a flood event larger than a 1:100 occurs. Risk to property above 250m remains, and those residents may still experience difficulty obtaining flood insurance.

    Little residual risk remains if a full buyout is pursued, as people and property would not be present in the hazard area.


    What was the cost of the risk reduction?

    Achieving this risk reduction carries a net $15.5 million cost to taxpayers. The cost to implement the preferred option is a minimum of $35.5 million to buy out properties below 250m and remediate the area, but this is offset by cost-savings in other areas. The buyout cost is based on 2020 assessed values only, not fair market value. This figure does not include the cost of procuring land for a land swap, as this is an optional step which may or may not be pursued; it therefore does not affect the evaluation of this risk treatment.

    The net cost to implement the second preferred option is a minimum of $51.3 million. This also does not include the cost of procuring land for a land swap as this is an optional step.

    Reclamation costs are estimated to be about $10 million, but one-third (nearly $3 million) includes grading and landscaping. The grading and landscaping costs would depend on the future use of the area and could be avoided if the area were allowed to return to its natural state.

    Reclamation costs for the second preferred option are estimated to be about $15.5 million, but nearly $3 million comprises grading and landscaping. Again, these costs would depend on the future use of the area and could be avoided if it were allowed to return to its natural state.

    Cost savings would be realized as municipal services (water, sewer, road maintenance, garbage pick-up, etc.) need not be provided in future years.


    What new risks (if any) are generated by the risk treatment?

    No known new risks are created.


    Discussion Points within this forum:

    • Do you agree that enhanced Land Use Bylaw Provisions and Buyout Below 250m with the opportunity for a land swap is the best solution for Ptarmigan Court? Or, would you prefer to see the entire community bought out? Why or why not?
    • Have you talked to your neighbours about your preferred approach? What did they say? Were you in agreement?
    • From your perspective, is there anything that you feel was missed in the evaluation (found in the report here)?
    • How do you feel about relocation? Would you stay in the region if your home was bought out? Would you prefer that a new community be formed, or would you prefer to move to an existing home in region?
  • Land Development Options: Draper

    over 2 years ago
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    CLOSED: This discussion has concluded. Thanks for your input. More forum discussion topics coming soon.

    The preferred approach is a Buyout of all Properties.

    For more information regarding the downtown evaluation, continue reading below.

    Draper is comprised of 98 large lot residential properties, 64 of which are located below 250m, with 34 above. During the 2016 Horse River Wildfire, 33 homes were impacted, 9 of which have rebuilt. During the post-fire recovery period, greater awareness was placed on geotechnical concerns that are present along the hillside. During the 2020 flood, 51 properties were impacted. No structural mitigation has been formally considered.


    Key Points

    1. No structural flood mitigation is planned for this community.
    2. Flood mitigation around built-up areas is estimated to cost $118 million.
    3. Population is 187 as of the 2018 Census and consists of 98 private properties.
    4. 64 private properties (65% of the total) are below the 250m elevation, of which 34 are developed.
    5. 34 private properties (35% of the total) are above the 250m elevation, of which 28 are developed.
    6. 33 private properties (34%) were affected during the Horse River Wildfire, of which 9 have rebuilt (9%).


    Proposed Approach for Draper

    The preferred approach is a community-wide buyout of all properties. This option may be considered for the following reasons:

    1. It is the safest solution from a life-safety perspective. If the area was not bought out, not only would residents be trapped during a future 1:100 or higher flood event (Draper Road would be covered by water and impassable), but first responders would have difficulty accessing properties and would be putting their own lives in danger if the need to access a flooded property arose.
    2. While a full buyout would cost a minimum of $60.4 million based on 2020 assessed values, the cost would be significantly offset by the $32 million saved by not proceeding with the Draper portion of the Rural Water Sewer Servicing project (which will be introducing services to Draper at a cost of $27 million, plus $5 million for providing private connections). This cost-saving would not be realized if only the properties below 250m were bought out, as 34 remaining properties would still have to be serviced.
    3. The buyout would also be entirely offset by the cost savings realized by not providing flood mitigation. It is impractical to provide property-specific protection (such as ring dykes around homes), making a berm protecting larger groups of homes the only viable option. This collection of berms carries a significant estimated cost of nearly $118 million.
    4. The RMWB need not proceed with a community gathering place, budgeted at $300,000.
    5. Draper is also characterized by homes that are built upon and near a slope with geotechnical concerns. A buyout of not only flood-hazard lands but also properties on steep slopes would eliminate more than just risks from flood, but also slope failure.

    The proposed policy for Draper is to remove all people and property from the area thus completely avoiding the hazard, maximizing disaster risk reduction, and increasing community resilience over the long-term.

    Potential future uses may include naturalization of the area, or pursuit of agricultural activities throughout the floodplain, as Draper is the RMWB’s only source of fertile, farmable land. With residential properties no longer in the area, land use conflicts would be minimized.


    What degree of residual risk remains from overland flooding?

    Little residual risk remains, as private properties and structures have been removed from the flood hazard area. Residual risks would be limited to remediation of any low-impact uses that may be established.


    What was the cost of the risk reduction?

    Achieving this risk reduction carries no additional cost to taxpayers, owing to the cost-savings realized by not providing flood protection, and not proceeding with capital projects. This does not include the cost of procuring land for a land swap, as this is an optional step which may or may not be pursued; it therefore does not affect the evaluation of this risk treatment.

    Reclamation costs are estimated to be about $16 million, but a significant portion (nearly $5 million) includes grading and landscaping. These costs would depend on the future use of the area and may not need to be accounted for if the area is allowed to return to its natural state.


    What new risks (if any) are generated by the risk treatment?

    No new risks are anticipated by buying out the area.


    Discussion Points within this forum:

    • Do you agree that a Buyout of all Properties is the best solution for Draper? Why or why not?
    • Have you talked to your neighbours about your preferred approach? What did they say? Were you in agreement?
    • From your perspective, is there anything that you feel was missed in the evaluation (found in the report here)?
    • How do you feel about relocation? Would you stay in the region if your home was bought out? Would you prefer that a new community be formed, or would you prefer to move to an existing home in region?