Wisdom of our forefathers

It's essential for life and a valuable commodity across the planet, but it isn't its life sustaining properties that have had water in the news recently.

I was in Calgary last week when the horrific events unfolded there. In fact I had a ground zero view of Stampede Park from the comfort of my daughter's home perched on a hillside right above the devastation. Their neighbourhood was a little island of normalcy as the waters raged close by. It is a tribute to Calgary's resiliency and solid infrastructure that they never once went without power and their water was never compromised.

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As anyone who has paid any attention to the news in the past week knows, others were not so fortunate. Throughout areas of Alberta people have seen their homes washed away, their businesses ruined, their community facilities compromised. And at the risk of sounding simplistic, that suffering is a direct result of a decision to develop human habitation on the flood plains of rivers.

And while I admire the leaders and citizens of those communities in Alberta who are now struggling to return to some semblance of normal life, I have even greater admiration for the foresight and wisdom of the people who founded and developed the two communities of the Battlefords.

History relates that Battleford's original town site was moved from beside the Battle River because of a tendency toward flooding. After moving to higher ground little development occurred on the flood plain of the North Saskatchewan River. As that wise approach evolved into actual municipal policy, what little development is there will not be added to. And since no improvements to those properties are allowed, over time they too will be gone.

Likewise on the North Battleford side of the river, commercial and residential development is well above reach of swollen river water.

It's an approach that has the news watchers making a story out of the sandbagging and closure of North Battlefords Water Treatment Plant No. 1. Tame stuff, really, but when the water comes raging through it's a good idea to pay attention.

City officials did a thorough job of assessing the situation and quickly took the necessary steps to protect the plant. It isn't luck that has made their job so much easier than the leaders in other communities. It's the wisdom and foresight of those who came before them. Let's continue to follow in their footsteps.

© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist