Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


General Questions

The purpose of the Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Office (DRFMO) is to protect the people and property in Drumheller from loss due to flooding and changes in climate, and to preserve the value of property and ensure risk is reduced to levels which allows financial and insurance products to remain available.

We are funded in part by the Government of Canada Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund ($22 M), Government of Alberta Community Resiliency Program ($28 M), and the Town of Drumheller ($5 M).

DFMCAS is a multi-hazard solution covering 100-km of riverbank, designed to reduce flooding and protect Drumheller into the 22nd century. It began in April 2019 and will end in March 2024. The program is based on the following areas of focus:

  • Communication and public engagement
  • Regulatory/ approvals
  • Conveyance capacity
  • Structural measures
  • Municipal Emergency Plan

The DRP provides financial assistance to qualifying applicants to help restore uninsurable property lost or damaged by a disaster to its basic, pre-disaster functional condition. DRPs provide financial assistance as a last resort to assist those affected by a disaster.

In March 2021 changes were made to the DRP setting homeowner funding limits and implemented cost-sharing mechanisms between the government and program applicants.

To read the full impact of the update and information on the DRP click here.

Different dike infrastructure in the Town of Drumheller is owned by the Town and the Provincial Government. There is currently over 30 km of diking or infrastructure acting as a dike in the Valley.

Starting on September 17th, engineering consultants and field crews will begin clearing and mowing vegetation on the top and sides of dikes along the valley. The crews will be inspecting 6.5 km of provincial dikes in various locations.

This inspection program is looking at provincially owned dikes to assess the health and condition that they’re in. The Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Office will be working with local contractors and engineering consultants to plan and execute inspection work over the coming weeks.

A condition inspection of provincial dikes is being conducted to determine if maintenance and repairs are required. This also allows us the opportunity to evaluate the condition and assists in determining what our new design will include.

Work is scheduled for the following areas:

  • Dike B (River Grove Campground and Cabins)
  • Dike C (Drumheller North by Travelodge Hotel)
  • Dike D (Badlands Community Facility to Riverside Drive East)
  • Newcastle Dike
  • Midland Dike
  • East Coulee Dike

Inspections began on September 17th and work is expected to be completed by the end of October. Crews are planning to be working weekdays 8AM-6PM, to minimize disturbance and disruption.


Throughout the Valley a lot of the communities were settled and populated well before there were water distribution systems, so most people sustained wells for their homes. The reason they chose areas like Newcastle was that it has very poor soil that allows the river to fill the drinking wells. The neighbourhoods along the river with this great sandy soil everyone loves to build in, also allows seepage. For past floods, we’ve been able to manage seepage by de-watering via pumping. However, a few neighbourhoods in Drumheller can’t keep ahead of seepage, and as such further development can’t happen there.

Overland inundation is absolutely catastrophic. So while we do have seepage in some areas, Newcastle being one of them, if we don’t make the berms higher and water flows overtop, the impact of damage that will happen will be much higher than anything we’ve seen as a result from seepage so far.

The overland flow from floods is much more damaging as it carries debris, silt and gravel. Berms are built to mitigate the risk of overland flooding. It will also moderate the amount of ground water fluctuation due to the flooding waters. The water table will still increase, but not as quickly as it would without a berm in place.

Current diking will be wider and higher. There will be new diking in some of the neighbourhoods that currently have no protection, where structural measures are viable. The land on top of the dikes and in the conveyance area of the river will largely become public spaces and haul routes during emergency response to floods.

The berms will be 6m wide and on average are 1.5m high. The elevation will differ throughout the valley because of the slope of the river. They need to be wide enough to become haul routes and allow equipment to drive on top, in event the berm needs to be elevated beyond this height during a flood event. The berms will be built to withstand a minimum flow of 1850 cubic metres per second (cms) plus 0.75m freeboard. Two of the most significant floods in the valley were the 1915 flood with a flow of 2000 cms and the 2005 flood with a flow of 1450 cms.

The footprint area will vary based on the location and ground elevation where the berms will be constructed. One of the purposes for gaining entry permission to private properties is to further define these designs

Final engineering designs are still being developed for berms. Spring 2021 is the new target for construction as we must include new provincial maps in our designs. We expect the new maps in late fall.

No. While the solution may work in other areas of the province, it is not a consideration for us.

The existing stormwater channels will have back flow devices installed where they intersect the new berms and enter the river. This is a common practice and typical back flow devices can be seen at 12th St West in Newcastle and 25th St NW in Midland.

Yes, on August 11, 2020 Mayor Colberg announced confirmation of the funding. Most projects within the Resiliency and Climate Adaptation System could not start until the funding agreement was signed.

Yes. While it is always sad to see trees removed, we are developing an urban tree strategy that will see a 5:1 replacement plan implemented to ensure there is carbon balance in the area. Many poplar trees in Centennial Park are at their end of life, and have become a threat to make room for the berm. The removed trees will be replaced with new trees and/or bushes that are appropriate for the natural habitation. The 5:1 replacement plan ensures both carbon balance, as well as limited impact on Drumheller’s wildlife community.

The lift station along Riverside Drive is at high risk of flooding and needs to be raised. The tree clearing is necessary for this work to be completed.

Tree clearing can proceed under the migratory bird nesting period as long as nests are not disturbed as determined by a qualified professional. 

A wildlife survey (Pre-Construction Wildlife Survey) was conducted by a qualified professional on Monday May 3rd and determined there were no active nests in the area and within 100m of the area prior to the start of tree clearing. Monitoring will continue until completion.

Trees removed during this project will be replaced at 5:1 with appropriate trees and/or bush species. Please see our video “Drumheller Tree Program” for further information.

Yes. Construction work and tree removal is allowed during migratory bird season as long as a qualified professional conducts a field wildlife survey to confirm there is no nesting in the area to be disturbed and that wildlife is protected.
Two wildlife surveys were conducted. The first on May 3 and the second following contractor pause on May 16.  Both surveys confirmed no active nests were identified. It is recommended that tree and shrub removal be completed within five days or sooner to ensure no new breeding bird activity establishes. This will ensure compliance with the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Species at Risk Act, and the Alberta Wildlife Act (GOC 1994, GOC 2002, GOA 2015). 

Many of the shrubs and trees are being left on site. This will create new habitat for nesting birds. 


Land acquisitions are private transactions. Council approved a land acquisition policy (Insert link) whereby all acquisitions are based on a current market value appraisal by a certified appraiser. We need to respect the confidentiality of the purchase agreements. Owners are free to disclose this information if they wish.

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Yes. The flood office goes through an audit process with the federal government, provincial government and the Town. A 2020 management audit was recently completed affirming the approach being used

The flood office will respond to inquiries received within 24 hours. 

Engineering consultants have developed draft berm alignments that identified several properties that will be directly impacted by the berm. The flood office has asked the engineers to review their plans to find solutions that will minimize the impact to private property as compared to their first draft. Once these have been revised, Scott Land & Lease will be meeting directly with impacted landowners to review the berm alignments.  It is important we respect directly impacted landowners and inform them personally of the impacts to their property before the alignments are made public.

Flood Mitigation Impacts on Land Use

The Municipal Development Plan is the visionary community plan for the Town, it provides high level guidance, goals and policy. The Land Use Bylaw implements the MDP’s goals, it provides detailed regulations on building location, form and use. Both of these are statutory documents under the Municipal Government Act.

A review of these documents was important to help us understand how the river impacts future development for the valley. While we know the river can be a threat to us, for the majority of time, it’s an asset. We need to understand what opportunities it can create for future growth.

Council gave first reading of the proposed new MDP and LUB on September 14. Consultation is underway on the two by-laws featuring a website where residents can provide feedback on the proposed changes. A public hearing is scheduled for both the MDP and LUB on Monday October 26th.

Yes, visit landplanning.drumheller.ca/maps to view an interactive map where you can put in your address and see what your current district is, and what the proposed district would be. For a quick snapshot of your neighbourhood scroll down the page for PDF maps. Don’t forget to leave your feedback while you’re there!

  1. Place the river at the heart of the plan
  2. Understand channel capacity, making room for the river and protecting development with berms creating new public amenities such a public trails, natural spaces and parks
  3. Ensure the views that make the badlands experience are protected
  4. Develop smart and attractive growth areas away from the river
  5. Build upon the unique neighbourhood identities throughout the Valley

O2 Planning and Design (consultant conducting review) found the current MDP lacks a clear vision for the town. It does not seek to connect the community and uniqueness of the neighbourhoods throughout the valley. Current growth areas do not address flood risks and there needs to be a better understanding on the role the river can play as a space, a destination, and a conduit.

In terms of the LUB – it currently has 21 land use districts and it is both complicated and inflexible. The LUB must incorporate regulations around flooding, but the river is completely absent from the current bylaw.

Yes. The MDP sets out new zones; a conveyance zone for the river, a protected zone defined by the structural flood measures and growth area where flooding risk is greatly reduced. Individual property owners may be impacted by the alignment and location of structural measures.

Embedding the river and flood mitigation measures into these planning documents is critical for our resiliency and climate adaptation system. When the river is located at the heart of the planning process, it helps reorganize the Valley into open spaces, protection areas and new growth. All of these components are fully entwined into the flood mitigation program.

These recommendations will provide more clarity and decrease administrative burden, making the development process clearer for both applicants and development authorities. Ultimately, they support our economic development strategy for decades to come.

  • More vision for 20 years, 50 years and 100 years
  • Modernize the Land Use Bylaw by using a layered approach and reducing the number of districts from 21 to 8
  • Decrease administrative requirements
  • Make both the MDP and LUB easier to interpret and administer
  • Recognize the unique form of the neighbourhoods
  • Eliminate parking minimums
  • Reduce bureaucratic burden by focusing on form over use
  • Provide more incentives that invite creative investment

By reducing the number of land use districts we refocus from “use” into “form.” We look at a transect between the most physically intensive uses of the land and natural space where we have almost no development at all. We then find breakpoints within that to define the form we need to see in different areas. Once we have the basic system in place we can apply Valley-wide considerations using layers and overlays.

For example we can take a Badlands overlay, which helps us understand the most critical and visible elements of the Badlands landscape, and we can protect them and start to layer them on which could provide additional restrictions in certain areas. For another example, we can use a neighbourhood overlay to look at the unique characteristics and conditions of each neighbourhood throughout the valley. This overlay may add or remove certain restrictions on properties to allow more flexibility in some areas.

The overlay is a tool that gives us Valley-wide control over some of these factors that we know happen locally without ending up with a land use bylaw that has dozens of districts. It also makes it easier to revise and update those components of the land use bylaw. If there is a new set of mapping or area that requires focus, instead of revising a bunch of districts we can instead revise it all in one place. It makes it a much easier tool, which allows the flexibility and openness that we want, and also links to the intention we have long-term for the Valley.

Development along the river will still be allowed as long as new flood mitigation criteria that will be part of the revised LUB are met. Areas larger than 3.0 acres may have more requirements.

The revised MDP and LUB will provide guidance on where additional trails and paths could be located. A benefit of new and enhanced berms throughout the valley is these public spaces could provide recreational uses to be used by the public.

These class designations are simple notifications of owners who have indicated a desire to have lands developed. The lower the number the more interest has been expressed and the perceived opportunity such as servicing, access and connectivity. It is not an accurate, comprehensive or complete list.

No, we are still accepting feedback on the proposed documents. This feedback will influence the revised versions of the proposed documents, which will be posted online once they are complete. If you didn’t get a chance to provide your feedback in person you can still visit landplanning.drumheller.ca to review the proposed MDP and LUB and leave us your comments. You can also connect with our office at ddurnie@drumheller.ca or 403-823-0994.

First reading of the statutory documents had First Reading at council September 2020. Following first reading, we sought additional public input and council hosted a public hearing on October 26, 2020.

The Town of Drumheller Council passed second reading of the proposed LUB and MDP during the regular Council Meeting on November 23rd, 2020. At this meeting a “What We Heard” report was also presented summarizing the feedback from the public and changes between the first and second drafts of the proposed MDP and LUB documents. Click here to read the “What We Heard” report.

Second drafts of the LUB and MDP may be reviewed online at landplanning.drumheller.ca, or copies may be picked up at the Town of Drumheller Office at 224 Centre Street, Drumheller, Alberta, T0J 0Y4 from 8:00 – 4:30 pm.

Land Acquisition

We currently estimate approximately 40 homes may be impacted with full or partial property acquisition requests. This will be done in a phased approach. Scott Land & Lease Ltd. will be connecting directly with potentially affected homeowners. Click here to learn more about the land acquisition process.

Land acquisition has started and it will continue over the next few years.

Yes! Acquisition of required parcels or portions will occur in a phased approach. Phase 1 will focus on properties that are in the floodway where no engineering solution can be reasonably implemented to protect them. These properties would have experienced flooding at 1400 cubic metre per second (cms) of flow or lower. Site appraisals for some of these properties has commenced.

Properties or portions of properties that are needed for the improvement or installation of berms will be identified in Phase 2. Detailed designs of structural enhancements are not yet completed. Property owners impacted by Phase 2 will be contacted by Scott Land & Lease Ltd. for entry permission to conduct hydraulic and geotechnical analysis.

Engineers will conduct soil testing to confirm if and where a berm can be constructed and what obstacles may exist such as slope erosion, irrigation systems and vegetation constraints.

As we finalize berm designs for neighbourhoods, Scott Land & Lease Ltd. will be reaching out to impacted property owners. Click here for more details on the land acquisition process.

No. Drumheller Land Corporation is requesting to have vacant possession within 60 days of purchase price.

Yes. Options can be considered to move the house. Up to 75% of the total value will be paid if this option is chosen.

No. In extraordinary circumstances exceptions may be considered once a final purchase price has been determined. This will be dealt with on a case by case discussion with the homeowner.

Drumheller Land Corporation is planning to have vacant possession within 60 days of purchase date.

The land acquisition budget is $20M. The price for acquisitions of required parcels or portions of parcels are determined by a current appraisal.  Click here for the land acquisition process.

The Town will provide one site appraisal. If the owner wishes an additional appraisal to be considered, it will be at the owners’ expense.

No. The Town will not pay for homeowner legal fees.

No. The Province of Alberta has changed the floodplain in the valley several times – no less than four.

The current maps based on 2007 data and published in 2016, don’t just reflect historic flooding in the valley, they also provide a predictive risk analysis to the community, based on modelling of various flow rates. If your home is located in the floodway, flood fringe or overland flow area, this does not mean your property is required for purchase as part of the land acquisition process. Our two priorities for land acquisition are:

  • Phase 1 – properties that are in the floodway where no engineering solution can be reasonably implemented to protect the properties. 
  • Phase 2 – properties that are needed for the improvement or installation of dikes or other structural measures.

However, it does mean that your property requires a berm along the river so your neighbourhood is qualified to be designated as “protected.”

We have commenced with phase 1 land acquisitions. Detailed designs of structural enhancements are not yet completed for phase 2. Property owners impacted by phase 2 acquisitions will be contacted by Scott Land & Lease Ltd., likely by fall 2020. If you are not contacted by Scott Land & Lease, your property has not been identified as part of the land acquisition process as of now. If your neighbourhood is currently protected by a diking system, it is unlikely we will acquire your property. If your property is adjacent to an existing dike, we may need to acquire some portion of the property to enhance the dike. Please reference this website for further details on provincial flood hazard maps. https://floods.alberta.ca

We are not aware of any financial institution denying a mortgage based on provincial flood hazard maps. If you are aware of a situation, please contact our office at ddurnie@drumheller.ca and provide us with the name of the lender and what they specifically denied in terms of a mortgage.

Not yet. Council approved the engineering contract for berm design on August 31, 2020. Engineers will now conduct detailed design work which includes soil testing on public and private land, to confirm where berms can be constructed and what obstacles may exist such as slope, erosion, irrigation systems and vegetation constraints.

Once designs are completed, a map will be published and impacted homeowners will be contacted individually by Scott Land & Lease.

The land acquisition process is the same for all properties and based on the land acquisition policy adopted by Town Council in 2020.

Once the engineering consultant confirms a portion of your property is required for berm construction, the following process is followed:

  • Scott Land & Lease (the land agent) calls you to inform your property has been impacted
  • Engineering consultant prepares a drawing that shows where the berm is located on your property
  • The flood office will arrange and pay for one market value appraisal report from a certified appraiser based on the location of the berm. Should a second appraisal be requested by the landowner this will be at your own expense.
  • Scott Land & Lease will visit you, to review the berm alignment and answer your questions.
  • An offer to purchase will be provided based on the market value appraisal.
  • If the offer is not acceptable to you, you may proceed to the Land Compensation Board.
  • In some cases we have sent the appraisers to look at your property before the final alignments. This has been done to speed up the process.

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