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 feasibility phase. It will span two and a half years, and will involve completing engineering studies and analysis gathering feedback from community members,

Work completed prior to this phase was part of the high-level conceptual design phase. In this phase, it was determined that flood barriers may be a feasible option for the community and warranted further study.

During this feasibility stage, 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 2018, 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 design process. Engagement with residents began in early 2018 and will be ongoing through to the completion of this phase and any subsequent phases that could take place following Council Direction.

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 feasibility study continues.

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.

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.

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.