In 2005, Fish Creek Park – the largest provincial park in an urban area - was forever altered. Floods devastated over 40 km of pathways and trails, destroying eight bridges, obliterating signage and landscape furnishings, and altering the existing ecosystem. At that time, our teams developed a restoration plan, designed new pedestrian bridges and updated pathway systems that better respond to the human and natural behaviors in the park.
With our blood, sweat, and tears already in Fish Creek Park, we were ready to jump back in when the flooding in 2013 once again decimated the area. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation recognized that annual spring run-off events seemed to repeatedly damage this area, so they needed a strategy against future destruction. Chris Mountenay led a Stantec team to assess the risk of each damaged site, and determine if restoration work should include additional protection measures. The idea was to safeguard our restoration efforts in more vulnerable areas, leaving us with a design that would last through the 20-year horizon.
Next, Marissa Koop and our Stantec team helped determine the steps for rehabilitating the park’s infrastructure. Naturally, we wanted a park that was as good as new, with the strength and resiliency to withstand any future flood events. Wherever possible, bioengineering is the method of choice, which Koop explains is essentially working with Mother Nature to re-plant native trees and other plants in the area to create more support on embankments, instead of overusing concrete and man-made materials.
Our work here isn’t done yet; restoring a 40-year-old park to its original glory takes time. It may be years before Fish Creek Park fully recovers from the 2013 flood, but we just know it will be worth the wait.