At the request of the Town of High River, four of the most badly damaged structures in Wallaceville will be the first properties demolished starting Monday, February 2, 2015. Demolition of the remaining Government of Alberta owned properties is expected to begin in summer 2015.
“The decision to return Wallaceville to an undeveloped state was not taken lightly, however, it was necessary to protect High River from future floods,” said Mayor Craig Snodgrass. “The removal of these four most damaged properties is the first step in the process.”
The contract for the initial demolitions was awarded to Bluebird Contracting Services by the Government of Alberta through a public bidding process held in December.
The Government of Alberta initiated the property purchase program to see Wallaceville returned to an undeveloped state at the request of the Town of High River in December 2013.
Wallaceville was one of the hardest hit areas of the 2013 flood because it sits at a critical choke point along the Highwood River. Due to its ground water levels and the path the river winds through the neighbourhood, it is susceptible to repeated flooding. Engineers for the Town recommended Wallaceville be returned to an undeveloped state to widen the river channel, eliminating the chokepoint and providing a greater degree of flood protection for High River.
The mitigation plan delivers considerable economic and environmental benefits for High River by allowing more room for the river to flow away from downtown and other neighbourhoods during future high water events.
The Government of Alberta is in the process of assessing the remaining homes and other structures for their suitability for sale or demolition. If any structures are approved for sale it is anticipated they will be posted publicly beginning summer 2015. Structures that are not approved for sale will be demolished.
In October 2014, High River Council expressed their support of only passive, low-intensity future recreational uses to the area, with the emphasis to be on naturalization.