The city's new flood plain elevations will not block plans to redevelop the St. Albert Senior Citizens' Club provided existing levees in the area are reinforced.
The new elevations, which identify areas under risk during a major flood, were approved by council Monday. The 1:100-year flood fringe extends further up the banks of the Sturgeon River than the previous boundary set by Alberta Environment in 1974.
Engineering director Todd Wyman told council Monday the changes to the flood plain boundaries would not pose a roadblock for infill projects proposed in the downtown area redevelopment plan (DARP), like a new seniors' centre or upgrades to Millennium Park, both city-owned parcels.
"What we're leaning towards is a flood plan that will work for the next 100 years, but also consider redevelopment of the lands there," he said.
The city's flood plain standards have been under review since 2007 after the Big Lake flood basin study identified a 1:100-year elevation of 653.68 metres with an extra metre safety elevation. That standard would have limited development opportunities in the area, affecting 19 buildings and 21 hectares of land including the seniors' club, prompting council to ask for other options.
The new flood fringe affects just nine buildings and eight hectares of land. Wyman pointed out the Big Lake study mainly dealt with flooding risk upstream of the Sturgeon. He said the city's recommended standard is still 0.5 metres higher than the current 1:100-year flood fringe.
The report calls for additional levees to augment the three existing structures protecting lands from flood risk in the downtown. One levee by the seniors' club is projected to cost $45,000. Others protecting private lands in the river valley could be paid for with a local improvement levy, administration suggested.
Administration has been asked to work with landowners to discuss ways to minimize flooding risk.
Mayor Nolan Crouse said he was pleased to learn the cost of the levees would be relatively inexpensive. Approving the flood plain plan is necessary for continuing with the DARP process, he said.
"It's a bit like the chicken and the egg. You want to make sure you know the flood plain before DARP, but you want to know about DARP before you do the flood plain," he said.
The new elevations won't be official until they're added into the land-use bylaw next year.