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Flood mapping engagement planned, says MLA

Mountain View County maintains that a provincial floodway development standard is needed to help guide municipal decision-making

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The provincial government plans to undertake an engagement process regarding new flood mapping along the Upper Red Deer River, including with area municipalities, says Jason Nixon, Sundre-area MLA and minister of Environment and Parks.

“We expect to launch engagement on new and updated flood hazard maps later this winter, beginning first with municipalities and then expanding to all Albertans,” Nixon told The Albertan.

“Alberta continues to provide new and updated flood maps to communities across the province. This is a key part of supporting the development of safe, resilient communities over the long-term.”

Nixon’s comments come in response to a recent call for action by Mountain View County. 

At its recent regularly scheduled meeting, county councillors called on Environment and Parks to “ensure that affected residents receive sufficient support during the Upper Red Deer River Hazard Study consultations and once the mapping is released to the public to adequately understand the impact on their property and the provincial strategy to assist them.”

Online consultations regarding the Upper Red Deer River Hazard Study ended on Jan. 15, 2021, with a date a second round of engagement not yet set.

The county maintains that a provincial floodway development standard is needed to help guide municipal decision-making in floodways and flood fringes identified by provincial mapping. 

The call for action on provincial floodway mapping was part of a one-page summary sent to Nixon’s department, which also asked for action on agriculture plastics recycling and brownfields.

Brownfield sites are properties that may be contaminated with hazardous materials left over from previous industrial use of the property, such as gas stations.

Regarding brownfield sites, the county’s request outlined in the summary requested that Nixon’s department “continue with its plan to involve municipalities in development of clear policies and regulatory processes that promote future investment and economic development opportunities on existing brownfield and legacy sites.”

In response, Nixon says the province is committed to working with municipalities to address brownfields and redevelopment.

“We encourage municipalities to work with the government to ensure responsible parties live up to their obligations to maintain, remediate or reclaim industrial brownfields within municipal boundaries,” he said. 

The government is working with Alberta Energy Regulator on a liability management framework that will address legacy contamination sites, he said.

“We recognize that brownfield redevelopment would create job opportunities and boost the economy of these communities,” he said. “The government can and will hold responsible parties accountable for the management, remediation or reclamation of brownfields.”

Regarding agricultural plastics recycling, the county called on the department to “coordinate to ensure that sustainability of the Agriculture Plastics Recycling Group to allow full realization of the potential of ag plastic recycling in the province with a focus on enhanced responsibility among the producers of the products.”

In response, Nixon says the province has tabled new legislation to “help create jobs and keep plastics in the economy instead of creating environmental waste. If passed, the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Amendment Act would set the foundation for implementing an extended producer responsibility framework in 2022.”