Flood Recovery in Fish Creek Provincial Park
The flooding in southern Alberta in the spring of 2013 impacted many people and places, including Fish Creek Provincial Park. From an ecological standpoint, floods are important to the health of our water ways but they can severely affect our humanconstructed world. Fish Creek Provincial Park is no stranger to the immense power of floods, and many remember the impact of the events of 2005. Fish Creek will adapt, rebuild, and recover.
Major flooding occurred across Fish Creek Park’s Bow River corridor last year where water surged through adjacent day use areas and parking lots. The land adjoining pedestrian bridges 14 and 15 was eroded away, and many pathways became disconnected as large areas of shoreline were dramatically altered or entirely removed by floodwater.
On October 23, 2013, at the Fish Creek Environmental Learning Centre, the minister announcement an $81 million commitment to flood recovery funding for Alberta parks. Up to $16 million has been earmarked for Fish Creek Provincial Park projects. In his speech, the Honourable Dr. Richard Starke, Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation, detailed the incredible efforts of all parks staff, partners, and volunteers in assisting with rescues, public safety initiatives, and recovery efforts during the flood and in the months that followed.
We are well on our way with recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Fish Creek. The scope of the work to be done involves everything from major pathway recovery to complex bridge repairs. Ongoing and completed projects include:
- The boat launch washroom has re-opened. This was the only washroom building that required extensive repair.
Pathway and parking lot debris cleanup is complete.
- All of the pedestrian bridges affected by the flood will be repaired, and adjacent pathway connections restored. This most notably includes bridges 9, 14, and 15, although work is required on all pedestrian bridges throughout the park.
- The pathway between Shannon Terrace and Bebo Grove will be repaired.
- This will re-establish east-west park connectivity; once again you will be able to bike, hike, and run from one end of Fish Creek to the other!
- Pathway connectivity north-south along the Bow River will be reestablished. This includes access south of Hwy 22x to both Chinook Rotary Nature Park and Lafarge Meadows
- There are still major debris piles throughout the park. Most are made up of natural materials such as grasses, branches, trees, and silt, but they also contain non-natural materials such as Styrofoam, metal, wire, garbage, and treated lumber. These large, compacted piles of debris require the use of heavy equipment to break up, and will remain in the park for some time. Non-natural materials will be removed where possible, and natural debris will be scattered to aid the rehabilitation of affected areas.
- The washrooms at Glennfield are still closed for water line repairs and portable toilets are in place. Group reservations are on hold until all the repairs are complete.
We expect that work will be completed over the next three years. In partnership with the Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society, tours of the Bow River corridor were offered so people could experience first-hand the most intensely affected areas of the park and learn about recovery efforts. The tours used the park’s new electric minibus, and enabled groups, regardless of physical ability, to explore six different park areas impacted by the flood. The minibus is also available for personalized group tours during the spring, summer, and fall months, as road and trail conditions allow. For more information about minibus tours, contact the Friends of Fish Creek at 403-238-3841 or visit friendsoffishcreek.org.
To find more information about flood recovery in the park, visit fish-creek.org, stop by the Visitor Centre, or call the main park office at 403-297-5293.