City ponies up cash for designs but stops short of funding flood protection

The 2013 flood took a huge toll on the Calgary Zoo but the city is reluctant to approve funding to prevent damage in the event of future floods. On April 1 council decided to spend $1.2 million to draw up designs for flood barriers surrounding St. George’s Island. Though a flood mitigation system for the zoo will cost much more than that the city is banking on that money coming through provincial or federal relief funding.

The proposed wall is intended to protect the island from a one-in-100-year flood such as 2013’s. It will include pumps berms dykes earth and concrete walls between 50 and 100 metres above the projected flood line. Previous designs estimated the project would cost $11 million but were rejected once engineers discovered high groundwater levels that make the island vulnerable to both overland flooding and underground seepage during floods. The project is now estimated at $25 million.

City administration also investigated the possibility of relocating the zoo to remove the risk of flooding entirely but its report to council states that would cost far more than the zoo’s current assessed value of $174 million.

The zoo incurred roughly $50 million in damages much of which has been paid for through insurance and other government funding.