THE BLOG

Sandra Hunter for Mayor of Calgary

10/17/2013 07:37 EDT | Updated 12/17/2013 05:12 EST

I am Sandra Hunter and I am campaigning to be the next mayor of Calgary. I have not been to any forums, nor will you have seen me planting signs on lawns or knocking on doors. I believe that those days have come, and gone. I believe that the way, today, to connect with potential voters, is through NEW media. The Huffington Post now gives me an opportunity to write more detailed statements on my mayoral campaign, and I am grateful for the opportunity.

This article will focus on Calgary's recent flood.

Environmental groups are keenly aware of the effects of logging on bird populations, wildlife breeding and migration, as well as on water resources.

There was widespread opposition to logging in the Elbow Valley watershed west of Bragg Creek, and above Allen Bill Pond in 2006 and 2007. But the logging went ahead - the provincial government approved.

There are now large, denuded areas on hillsides in the Elbow Valley, west of Bragg Creek, south of Morley - on the reserve itself (this is exclusively under the control of the band council), north of Ghost Lake, as well as vast logging west of Sundre (which flooded) extending all the way along the foothills through Rocky Mountain House and Edson, to Grande Prairie.

Trees cut in Alberta are turned into 2x4s, fibreboard or tissue/toilet paper. We are not talking about "high grade use" - such as fine furniture.

It seems to me that the highest grade use of a lodgepole pine, in Alberta, is as part of a forest water reserve.)

We cannot "mitigate" future flooding by rapidly regrowing the trees. It takes 89 years for a lodgepole pine to grow back to harvestable size. Satellite images of the eastern slopes of our Rocky Mountains - easily accessible on Google Earth, or Google Maps - show enormous areas of deforestation. Take a look. I have pasted some images taken from Google Earth into my website.

Any flood that we might have in the future will always be a fixed percentage worse than it would otherwise have been (depending on past and future logging). Runoff from forest destroyed by fire or disease is increased 60%. When an area of forest is entirely logged, runoff is increased 90%.

I wanted to use the 2013 Calgary mayoral campaign to draw Calgarians' attention to a looming catastrophe, a water crisis. The forests in our watershed are as much a part of our water reserve as are the glaciers of the Columbia ice fields, Ghost Lake, and Glenmore reservoir. Surprisingly, as the ability of the forests in our watershed to store water and release it gradually diminishes (because of logging), we face the dual prospects of both flood and drought.

Lack of water is a key limitation to growth anywhere, and could become the single overriding factor in limiting Calgary's expansion. Growth restriction will have nothing to do with urban sprawl and whether or not the homebuilding industry has too much power at city hall. That will be irrelevant. It will have everything to do with water availability. Water is so valuable in certain parts of the world that authorities in some areas have placed barbed wire fences and armed guards around water catchment areas preventing rural people from accessing their traditional supply because the water reserve has been earmarked for the use of a city or corporation. When there is not enough water to go around, people fight for it, or steal it.

Let me mention here that Okotoks' downtown and trailer park were flooded at the same time as Calgary, High River and Sundre. The Sheep River overflowed its banks. This has not received much publicity. Yet, at the same time, Okotoks, a Calgary bedroom community, announced (last year and again this year) that it has reached its limit of growth because of lack of water! Okotoks is now looking at the possibility of piping water from Calgary in order to continue to grow.

Here we have a town with inadequate water supply that just had a flood! And Calgary will be asked to provide water for a bedroom community from its own reserves.

Control of the Crown land in which Alberta municipalities' watersheds reside lies solely under the control of our provincial government. The provincial government has not protected forests in these areas. The provincial government seems not to have considered the importance of the forests as a key part of a water resource, but mostly as a source of timber for the manufacture of 2 x 4s and tissue paper. I want to bring this practice to the attention of all those who have suffered from the recent floods. I want to hold the provincial government to account. Watershed logging is a very serious issue and will become progressively more important over the coming 20 years. Downstream flood-mitigation engineering projects will become increasingly expensive, numerous and, ultimately, futile, if logging continues in these areas.

The government must, absolutely, and immediately, stop all logging in municipal watershed areas.

sandrahunterformayor.ca