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Parks Flood Recovery Program: Reclaiming the Gems in our Communities

The moment the waters started rising on June 21, 2013, Marissa Koop was on site to respond to the state of emergency in a number of Calgary’s parks. Our team was already working on the Disaster Recovery Program to recover areas that high water damaged in 2011 and 2012, but this was nothing compared to the destruction of the 2013 floods. For us, it was a balancing act of competing values: being reactive in a time of emergency and making proactive decisions to prevent future damage. Instinct compels us to react in times of crisis. However, as we witnessed the floods rising while we were on site, our team knew that only responding in a reactive way could cause future structural problems. We had no choice but to be strategic and calculated in our actions.

The first step was to control erosion. Marissa explains that this program is aimed at using a strategy called bioengineering which essentially uses trees, plants and natural structuring as opposed to overusing concrete and other man-made materials. Resiliency, a word that probably has been overused in the wake of devastation left by the flood, now has a new meaning: not just referring to structural strength, but also a long-term recovery for the natural parks around Calgary.

Our team tackled various parks around the city:

  • Sue Higgins Dog Park
  • Sue Higgins Pedestrian Bridge
  • Douglasdale
  • Sandy Beach
  • Beaver Dam
  • Inglewood Bird Sanctuary
  • Lafarge Pathway
  • South Highfield Pathway
  • Commuters Trail Route
  • Weaselhead Natural Area

Not only aiming to repair the damage to nature, and to protect the environment for the area, we’re also working to restore habitats for the wildlife of the area, which is rife with devastation after the floods.

Construction is underway in some areas, while other sites are still being analyzed. The ongoing project is working to restore each area to a safe and stable condition so that Calgarians can reclaim the places they have enjoyed for decades; the places that reacquaint them with nature and the areas that make their neighborhoods a community. 

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