High River remains resilient as recovery ramps up
One year after floods ripped through High River, the town is ready to turn the page.
On June 20, High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass joined deputy Premier Dave Hancock, fellow dignitaries and hundreds of residents to commemorate the resilience shown by those living in and around the area during the June 2013 floods, as well as the recovery now well underway.
“The one thing I cannot express enough is how proud I am of each and every one of our residents for your dedication to High River,” said Snodgrass to those gathered outside the town`s Museum of the Highwood.
“Let the world know that we are not done, we are not going anywhere, because this is our home and we love it.”
Indeed, signs of recovery reverberate throughout the southern Alberta town of more than 13,000. Dikes have been largely completed, designed to protect the town in the event the Highwood River rises over its banks. Reinforcement and protection for riverbanks are also operational.
In total, the provincial government has allocated $87 million toward flood-mitigation projects in the town. Downtown High River is also showing signs of recovery. Strolling along the town’s main street, several businesses are adorned with slogans thanking others for their help or proudly declaring their return to regular hours. Having started in early May, the redevelopment plan for downtown envisions a more pedestrian-friendly centre.
In the end, last year`s floods have provided High River with prospects for a brighter future, said Duncan Scott, who is chair of the planning and redevelopment advisory committee, a group advising Town council on the flood-mitigation efforts
“With every problem, very often there’s an opportunity that is presented,” he said. “I believe we probably have an opportunity that no other town in Canada has had in the last 100 years and that is to completely re-envision so much of what the town is.”
Other restoration work in town includes the revitalization of George Lane Memorial Park and Campground. An importance green space and hub for visitors and townsfolk alike, the park – complete with baseball field, bocce courts, horseshoe pits and playground equipment – is planned to be completed in time to host 2014 Canada Day celebrations and graduations.
With dark days behind them and blue skies ahead, Snodgrass said the best is yet to come for High River.
“In the days to come, we will no longer fear June, but put up our feet and enjoy it,” he said. “High River is quickly becoming the greatest place to live, work and play. My commitment to you today is that it will be even a better place in the future with a redeveloped downtown, businesses and growth.”