City of Calgary Councillors will be deciding if 2014’s $52 million tax hike will be given back to Calgarians or kept to be used for mitigation projects from future floods.
One of the mitigation projects includes a $10.2 million berm upgrade to the Calgary Zoo to protect it from future floods.
Currently all proposed mitigation projects total $22.7 million, but there is a chance that more projects will arise later.
Most of the councillors would like to see the tax money returned to taxpayers, and instead use funds from the $300 million fiscal stability reserve fund.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi would rather keep the $52 million in 2014 and use it for flood recovery work, and appeal to the province and the federal government for flood mitigation work. If there is still a need for funds for the flood mitigation work, then he proposes to use the fiscal stability reserve fund.
Another option that will be looked at to pay for flood recovery work is increasing the drainage fees by four per cent, which will translate into about $70 million.
Provincial mitigation or erosion control programs may cover some of the expenses for the upgrades, but the early projects most likely won’t be covered.
Premier Alison Redford announced a number of plans and studies for Calgary and High River that will help mitigate damages from future floods, including an engineering study on the Elbow River tunnel project, which will look into the feasibility of an underground diversion for the Elbow River.
The project would be a dry dam upstream of Bragg Creek that would manage flows on the Elbow River as they flow into the Glenmore Reservoir.
The Highwood River project in High River is proposed to include a diversion channel, which would reduce flood risk by diverting excess water away from the town.