About the Project

The Bow River is an integral part of the Bowness community. Being so close to the river means there will always be a risk of flooding. In Bowness, flooding can happen when the flow rate is approximately 850 cubic metres per second (m3/s). Without upstream mitigation, there is a 12 per cent chance of this occurring each year.Mitigation infrastructure like reservoirs and barriers help reduce flood risk. When you factor in the TransAlta agreement for the Ghost Reservoir that was put in place in 2016, the annual flood risk in Bowness reduces from 12 per cent to five per cent.

What’s important to remember is that Mother Nature doesn’t always follow our scientific calculations and through climate modelling we know that Calgary will experience more severe and frequent extreme weather events such as flooding. So, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. That’s why it’s so important that we take action and put in the necessary steps to make communities, like Bowness, more resilient before the next flood happens.

While the current modified operation of the Ghost Reservoir is an effective means of helping to reduce Calgary’s flood risk, it is not enough on its own. Ultimately, to help reduce the risk of another 2013-level flood, the best approach is to use a combination of permanent and reliable solutions including an extended agreement with TransAlta, a new upstream reservoir and complementary barriers.

The map below highlights the area of land (purple and yellow area) The City is trying to protect from future flooding. The City is proposing building permanent flood barriers that will extend from the CP Rail tracks to the Shouldice Bridge.

Map of Bowness showing the 2013 flood line, the floodway flood fringe area, and the location of proposed future flood barriers.

Click to enlarge

This project is still in the early preliminary design stage. The preliminary design phase will span nearly two years, consisting of gathering feedback from community members, conducting site surveys, and completing engineering studies and analysis.

Work completed prior to this phase was part of the conceptual design phase. In this phase it was determined that flood barriers are a feasible option for the community, but no details about the barriers are determined and it is based on information available at the time. It's high-level, conceptual work that needs to be validated and refined in preliminary design.

During preliminary design, studies and analyses that will be undertaken include:

  • Hydrogeological (groundwater studies)
  • Site surveys
  • Geotechnical investigations
  • Flood modelling
  • Stormwater management
  • Landscape architecture and design
  • Biophysical impact assessments
  • Revised cost estimates and Triple Bottom Line
  • Value engineering

In July, The City hired Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. as the engineering consultant for this project and hired an engagement firm, Context Research Inc., to create a robust public engagement strategy.

Conceptual work has been completed, however, detailed design has not yet started. Input from citizens is an important piece of the detailed design process. Engagement with residents began in early 2018 and will be ongoing through to the completion of the project.

Much of the riverfront property is privately owned in Bowness and The City will work with individual property owners to gather their input, and discuss their concerns and ideas as the detailed design work gets underway

Previous Community Engagement

November 26, 2019

We hosted a public session to have an opportunity to update community members and present how community feedback will be incorporated throughout these studies. The informational boards from this session can be found here. A summary of comments made at this session is available here.

Spring 2019

Throughout the last year, we’ve heard from Bowness residents what the riverbank area means to them. Understandably, residents want to know what impacts a barrier could have on the trees, wildlife and fish in the area. Balancing the need for effective flood mitigation for our city while taking into consideration the natural environment in riverfront communities is an important factor in this – and all – flood mitigation projects.

Starting in a few weeks and continuing throughout the summer, independent biologists will visit the area to observe and note the wildlife. This includes:

  • Plant and tree species that are native to the area; and
  • Animals, birds and fish

The purpose of this study is to get an overall assessment of how the proposed barrier would impact the natural environment and recommend ways to ensure minimal disruption.

We’d like your input. If you have photos of wildlife in the Bowness area please submit these pictures here.

Please submit them in the location where the photo was taken. You may add as many markers as you wish.

This form is now closed. Thank you for your contributions. If you have more wildlife photos you would like to share, please email them to bownessbarrier@calgary.ca.

36 contributions

Fall 2018

An overarching What We Heard Report for the engagement activities in Fall 2018 can be found here. One main activity during Fall 2018 included an open house for the whole community. The informational boards from that event can be found here. The online activity below was the online component associated with the open house. Results from the open house are included in the report linked above.


What should The City consider when planning and designing flood mitigation for Bowness?

(This form is now closed. Thank you for your contributions.)

Based on your experiences and thoughts about Bowness, we would like to know what local features and sensitive areas should the project team consider in the design of the barrier. Drag the map around and use the zoom buttons at the top left of the map to find a location or feature you would like to provide a comment for. Click "add marker" and type your comment. Add as many markers as you wish.
354 contributions

September 20, 2018

We gave a presentation to riverfront residents. The slide deck can be found here. Questions asked during this session as well as answers can be found here.

August 15-17, 2018

We gave the same presentation to both the Bowness Community Association as well as the Bowness Responsible Flood Mitigation Society. The slide deck can be found here.

January 16, 2018

We hosted a public session to discuss the results of the Flood Mitigation Measures Assessment and gather preliminary feedback on the proposed Bowness Flood Barrier Project. A What We Heard Report from this engagement can be found here. Additional questions brought up at this session were addressed in this report from September 2018.


After the close of this phase of engagement, all data collected will be analyzed by The City and summarized in a What We Heard Report that will be shared with the community. Further engagement is underway through 2019 with river-front property owners and community members. We will share details of these plans on this page as they are available. Check back here for updates.