WHAT WE'VE HEARD
Q: What alternates were considered instead of a 2-block road closure of Riverside Drive?
A: The design team considered a number of flood mitigation measures, including a partial road closure (one-way traffic), and leaving the road fully open but constructing a full-height retaining wall.
Q: If there is a 2-block closure of Riverside Drive, will it impact emergency services response times?
A: The Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) found that emergency services response times would not be negatively impacted.
Q: Can we push the Downtown Berm out into the Red Deer River further to keep Riverside Drive Open?
A: The DRFMO has heard quite clearly from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Alberta Environment and Parks that berm encroachment into the river will not be permitted if there are viable alternatives, which there are. Placing fill material in a river causes significant harm to the aquatic environment and takes away from the room for the river to flow.
Q: Can the DRFMO put Riverside Drive on top of the Downtown Berm?
A: Additionally, the minimum road width for 2 lanes would be 7m, which would increase the berm footprint and cost significantly.
Q: Can the DRFMO use adaptive fill for the Downtown Berm, like in Midland and Newcastle?
A: One of the DRFMO’s goals is to build as much permanent flood mitigation infrastructure as possible in the next three years, while we have funding available, thereby minimizing future emergency response efforts and costs, especially in areas where so much critical infrastructure and vital community services are at stake, like the Downtown core.
Q: Could the existing road be re-aligned to fit between the berm and the houses by encroaching on 2 or 3 lots? We are accepting encroachment in other places, why not here?
A: Encroachment along 5th Street would require the full acquisition of these properties, not just encroachment (as the houses are fairly close to the road), and ultimately that’s more expensive. It would also likely require the acquisition of 5 properties, rather than the 3 mentioned. The additional 2 properties that would need to be acquired are 475 3rd Ave and 349 5th Street. To acquire these 5 properties would cost between $750,000 and $1,000,000. Furthermore, it would also result in incurring the cost of fully reconstructing this section of Riverside Drive. Since this portion of Riverside Drive is 300m and the cost of reconstructing 1 km of roadway is approx. $1,500,000, that’s an estimated additional ~$450,000 in road construction cost.
Q: Will residents have a say when it comes to the tree and shrub replacement plan for the Downtown Berm?
A: Yes, once the Downtown Berm project is at that stage, an online survey will be available to the public to provide their input on the tree and shrub replacement plan. The DRFMO has heard from residents that they would either like trees replanted in their backyard, or they would like none so as not to impact their river view. All of this input will be provided to the landscape architecture teams for consideration. The team will do everything they can to follow the Urban Tree Strategy and also incorporate residents’ requests.
Q: Can the Downtown Berm be built with a 2m top width instead of a 6m or 4m top width?
A: Unfortunately, no. A 2m top width makes the berm unsafe for maintenance, and also allows for rapid failure due to water seepage, which would impact the integrity of the berm now and in the future.
Q: When will the public be notified of the engineering decision made for the Downtown Berm?
A: A Community Engagement Session will be held on November 17th, and an update for the Downtown Berm will be provided. Stay tuned to social media and the flood website for more details on the session.
Q: Are retaining walls lower maintenance than earth-filled berms?
A: No. Retaining walls have maintenance costs such as guardrail maintenance, vandalism maintenance, and structural inspection and maintenance and earthfill inspection and maintenance. Earth-filled berms require vegetation maintenance and earthfill inspection and maintenance.
Q: Why does Downtown get a nice green space, while other areas like Midland and Newcastle do not?
A: The DRFMOs goal is to build permanent berms wherever it is feasible, in order to protect Drumheller into the future. In Midland and Newcastle, road closure was not an option, as there is no alternate access/egress for the adjacent properties, which is why the adaptive fill option was selected for these two communities.
Q: There are taxpayers that live across the highway that have nothing to do with the flood project, why do they have to contribute tax money to it?
A: Residents of any city or town pay taxpayer money for numerous expenditures that may not directly affect them. This is no different from the Flood Mitigation Project. The Downtown Berm in particular also protects many community services used by all residents, including the arena, BCF, library and RCMP.
Q: Why do we need the Downtown Berm when we already have Dickson Dam?
A: The Dickson Dam provides a significant level of flood protection to the Town of Drumheller. We have been able to reduce the Red Deer River 100-year design flood flow rate from 2260m3/s to 1850m3/s by taking into account the operation of Dickson Dam. That being said, the floods in 2005 and 2013 were lower than 1850m3/s and the Dickson Dam could not fully prevent the flooding.
Q: If there is a 2-block road closure of Riverside Drive, will there be river access?
Q: If there is a 2-block road closure of Riverside Drive, how will Downtown be impacted by the increase in traffic?
A: If there is a 2-block closure of Riverside Drive, the Town will ensure that traffic mitigation measures are Implemented to keep traffic flowing smoothly through the downtown core, and to discourage short-cutting on adjacent residential streets.
Q: Can we close Riverside Drive temporarily and see how it affects traffic?
A: The Flood Mitigation Office has completed additional traffic count monitoring when the recent partial lane closures were in place for the ATCO Electric power pole relocation project and used this information to update our traffic study for the area. We do not have plans at this time to complete full road closures; however, this could be considered in the future if it was determined that it would be informative for selecting a berm option.
At the Downtown Berm Community Engagement Sessions on September 20th, the DRFMO held discussions around the community’s values as they pertain to the Downtown Berm. We asked residents in attendance to list their top 3 values, and the results (with the number of residents who chose each value) are listed below.
- Flood Protection (11)
- Traffic (10)
- Budget (8)
- Landscape & Vegetation (7)
- Environmental Impacts (4)
- Emergency Response (4)
- Visual Design (3)
- Timeline (2)
- Wildlife Impacts (1)
Additional information on the community’s values that were discussed is in the “How We’re Responding” section of this report.
"DOWNTOWN BERM COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT SESSION FOLLOW UP" SURVEY RESULTS
The “Downtown Berm Community Engagement Session Follow Up” survey received 4 submissions. The following are the survey questions and corresponding responses:
- What did you like/dislike about the format of the session?
- I liked the size of the session. It was small enough to engage with the group.
- I appreciated the informal setting and the opportunity to have concerns heard.
- I felt it was a very open discussion. Eric Sweet was great at having attendees realize the points they were bringing forward and that they were actually being dealt with. The one fellow who was adamant about not closing Riverside Drive completely showed strong emotions on the subject, but I disagree that “all of the town will be up in arms”. I have found that long-term residents are against changes but if the community wants growth, be it through population growth or a broader tax base, growth needs to happen. Also, people with disabilities have to be given some thought as far as access to the berm walkway must be taken into consideration. I see people walking, biking, scootering and wheelchairs using the trail. As this particular person is not an engineer, I totally discounted his input as self-serving. Now all that being said, try your best to keep Riverside Drive open with the snake in the road. If anything, it will slow down the traffic flow and still allow for emergency vehicle use. Also, I would greatly prefer to see a landscaped berm as opposed to a wall.
- I liked hearing other residents' perspectives and the engineering/design challenges being addressed by the team. No dislikes.
- Did you find the session to be informative?
- Yes, we were pleased to hear the explanation of why the Downtown Berm needs to be the way it needs to be.
- The session provided the same information as presented previously.
- Very much so.
- Do you have any additional feedback regarding the Downtown Berm?
- We are in favour of option 1. I believe that the town will get used to the new driving decisions they will need to make. No matter the decision, though we really feel that option 1 is the best option. Financially and aesthetically. If there is to be anything planted, I would like low shrubs and no tall trees. We are already losing a lot of our river view.
- I think it might be helpful to publish the value of the infrastructure being protected by the Downtown Berm, so community members who are not directly impacted by its construction (ex. residents of Newcastle) understand why it is an essential expense for the community.
- How do you prefer to be engaged and informed on the Drumheller Resiliency & Flood Mitigation Project?
- Responses are in favour of in-person engagement in small groups.
HOW THE DRFMO IS RESPONDING
Community and public engagement have been a large focal point for the Drumheller Resiliency & Flood Mitigation Office (DRFMO) during the development and implementation of the Flood Mitigation Project. Input received from the community is thoroughly considered by the DRFMO when making decisions related to flood mitigation protection for the Town of Drumheller.
Based on the input received from the Downtown Berm Community Engagement Sessions, the DRFMO is taking the following action:
- Based on the community’s values discussed on September 20th, the DRFMO will adjust their flood mitigation plan for the Downtown Berm with these values in careful consideration. The top 3 priorities of the residents in attendance were flood protection, traffic, and budget. Almost all residents expressed their desire for flood protection, all traffic concerns were in regard to the change in traffic flow if there is a 2-block closure of Riverside Drive, and all residents with concerns around the budget wanted to ensure that the DRFMO will be able to stay within it.
- Based on the Community Engagement Sessions on September 20th, it has been determined that out of the residents in attendance, the majority would prefer an earth-filled berm as opposed to a retaining wall. These residents were also in favour of the green space that would be provided. The DRFMO will take this input into careful consideration when adjusting their flood mitigation plan for the Downtown Berm.
- Based on concerns around the tree and shrub replacement plan as it pertains to the Downtown Berm, the DRFMO will be hosting an online survey to gather community input on this stage of the project. As the project is not yet in this stage, the DRFMO is asking the community to stay tuned to our website and social media channels for the survey launch.
- The community has raised concerns about the budget for the Downtown Berm. As construction prices are increasing daily, and the Drumheller Flood Mitigation Program is a complex, multi-year program, with many components like communication and environmental monitoring being managed at the program level versus being assigned to individual projects, the DRFMO can only provide cost estimates. Due to this, we do not have a constantly evolving budget breakdown by berm project on the flood website. If you would like more information on project costs, please email email@example.com. Furthermore, the DRFMO publishes their audited financial statements on the flood website at floodreadiness.drumheller.ca/be-informed/resources/drumheller-resiliency-and-flood-mitigation-office under the “Financial Statements” headline.
- Some concerns were also raised about the protection of wildlife. Prior to any work being done for the Downtown Berm, biologists conducted sweeps of the area for owls’ nests, animal dens, and other sensitive wildlife before tree removal took place, as the protection of the environment is of high importance to the DRFMO. Additioanal wildlife sweeps will be conducted in the future, prior to the start on any construction.
- In regard to traffic concerns, the community mentioned drivers speeding and the need for large speedbumps. The DRFMO will forward this information along to the Town of Drumheller Bylaw Officers. Furthermore, in regard to traffic, the community noted that a 2-block road closure of Riverside Drive would help drive tourism traffic Downtown. The community also noted that this summer was a very high-volume summer for Drumheller. This information has been provided to Sweet Tech Engineering, for consideration and comparison with the results from their Traffic Impact Assessment.
- Some residents raised concerns about the Downtown Berm being accessible for everyone, specifically those in wheelchairs. The DRFMO has included access ramps at various locations in the design of the downtown berm as part of the landscape planning. These ramps are designed at a flat enough slope to be accessible by wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers.
- The DRFMO will take into consideration that the community prefers in-person engagement (preferably in smaller groups). We will coordinate future community engagement sessions based on this feedback.
- The community has expressed their concerns regarding the maintenance of the berm. Due to this, the Town is gathering data on the new berm in terms of mowing areas, lengths of pipes to be maintained, and back-flow gates to be operated and exercised and will use this information to plan the berm maintenance budgets for the coming year’s Operating Budget. It may take a few years for the Town to optimize maintenance plans, as these new assets are added to the Town’s portfolio.
- Residents feel it is important for the DRFMO to publicly publish the value of infrastructure being protected by the Downtown Berm. The assessed value of all parcels and buildings protected by the Downtown Berm is $30.6M based on the Town of Drumheller's latest assessment numbers.
- Overall, the residents in attendance were in favour of protecting downtown and their homes with flood mitigation measures. Furthermore, the majority of residents were certain that while a change in traffic flow may be challenging in the beginning, they would be able to adapt to ensure the town continues to evolve.
-- Report End --