WHEREAS several devastating floods have occurred in Alberta in recent years, resulting in significant economic and societal impacts, property damage, and environmental loss; and
WHEREAS long-term flood planning and mitigation strategies, formalized through effective flood regulations, are essential for building resilience against future flood risks and safeguarding Alberta’s communities, properties, and natural resources; and
WHEREAS Alberta’s existing regulatory framework does not sufficiently address flood prevention and mitigation; and
WHEREAS the Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act (the Act) received Royal Assent in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 2013; and
WHEREAS the Act empowers the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations under multiple Acts to support improved floodway development, land use planning, emergency response, and address other flood-related issues and risks; and
WHEREAS none of the regulation-making powers allowed under the Act have been implemented to this point; and
WHEREAS executing the Act’s regulation-making powers would fortify Alberta’s defense against future floods; and
WHEREAS the Act seeks a holistic approach to flood management in Alberta, covering prevention, mitigation, emergency response, and recovery; and
WHEREAS the swift implementation of the regulation-making power afforded under the Act would enhance Alberta’s resilience to flood risks, by enabling the development of robust floodplain maps, improving land-use planning, ensuring the construction of flood-resilient infrastructure, fostering public awareness and education related to flood risks, and instilling more confidence in flood resiliency among homeowners and businesses;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Alberta (GOA) to develop and implement the regulations allowed under the Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the RMA advocate to the GOA to coordinate an approach among relevant agencies and stakeholders to ensure swift regulation development and implementation, the allocation of sufficient resources and funding for infrastructure and public awareness, and a commitment to regular assessment and refinement of the regulations.
In a proactive stance towards responsible development in flood-prone areas, Woodlands County engaged Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd. (NHC) in June 2012. The purpose was to carry out a flood hazard identification study for areas near Whitecourt, encompassing portions of the Athabasca and McLeod Rivers. The study area included a short reach of the Athabasca River, upstream of the Athabasca-McLeod River confluence; the McLeod River, upstream of the confluence; and the Athabasca River, downstream of the confluence. However, the study did not include those areas within and alongside the Town of Whitecourt. The study was subsequently expanded in July 2013 to include the confluence through the Town of Whitecourt under a separate contract funded by the former ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resources. While Woodlands County shouldered the financial burden for the study within its own boundaries, the combined findings were documented in the final report dated March 26, 2015. It was not until 2023 that the flood hazard identification maps, crafted in 2015, gained official approval from the Government of Alberta (GOA).
During this time the GOA amended the Municipal Government Act in December 2013 by enactment of Bill 27, Flood Recovery and Reconstruction Act, providing for regulation making powers for controlling, regulating or prohibiting any use or development in a floodway; and a provision to exempt floodway development in municipalities with significant development already in a floodway. It has been 10 years and municipalities are still being impacted by the occurrence of floods and experiencing devastation of infrastructure and exorbitant cost to repair that infrastructure. Residents of Woodlands County affected by the flood hazard mapping, especially those owning land parcels identified within a floodway that are now restricted from development, along with owners of parcels in flood fringe areas (who are uncertain about development standards), continue to await clear guidance and assurances on permissible development within the identified flood hazard zones.
Strong flood regulations, coupled with proactive measures, will safeguard our communities, protect our environment, and ensure the long-term sustainability and wellbeing of Alberta.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.