Sowing Community Spirit: Benevity, Seedlings and the Stampede!

April showers bring May flowers, right? Then April snow should make seedlings grow! That was the motto on Monday, April 24 when a group of 30 smiling and cheerful neighbours from Benevity came to Stampede Park to grow some great community spirit, despite the cold weather. Bringing 160 Colorado blue spruce seedlings, these benevolent friends from Benevity came to donate some time and trees to the Stampede!

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Say “Trees”: Parks & Facility Services share a smile with the Benevity crew and some of the new seedlings

Led by the Stampede’s green-thumbed Parks & Facility Services team, the group divided into planting crews and with tremendous care and affection, planted the seedlings in their new homes. The seedlings were welcomed onto Park and made to feel right at home in the planters located by the Park & Facility Services building.

In their new nursery, the seedlings will be tended to with love and attention by Sandy Mcafee, park maintenance supervisor, and her team for the next two to three years. These initial years are very significant in the life of a new tree and it is important to keep our new seedlings in a safe and happy place before sending them off into the big, open world.

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Sandy Mcafee from Parks & Facility and April from Benevity make a new home for a seedling

Once the seedlings have grown strong enough, the new trees will be transplanted to other locations across Park. In doing so the trees will also be used in landscaping projects as the Stampede expands buildings and greenspaces.

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

Four part-time horticulturalists from Benevity share a smile with a baby Colorado blue spruce

A tremendous thank you to the kind folks from Benevity who share our desire to further environmental initiatives and preservation in our city and beyond!

For more information about what the Calgary Stampede is doing to ensure a positive environmental impact, please visit our website http://corporate.calgarystampede.com/about/environment.html.

Stampede employees train for emergency flood preparedness

On June 21, 2013, southern Alberta was forever changed as the largest flood to date washed through, destroying much that stood in its path. The Calgary Stampede’s blue bridge was washed away, the Infield tunnel and Indian Village were submerged, and buildings across Stampede Park were flooded. Though the results were devastating, the Stampede witnessed that the spirit of the city couldn’t be washed away.

Immediately following the flood, the Stampede took numerous measures to protect and build resiliency for Stampede Park. From 2013 to 2014, the Stampede gathered all information possible on the flood, implemented new flood-resilient design features on Stampede Park, updated their Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and created a step-by-step outline document of how to handle flood situations. From the time the SOP was updated three years ago, Stampede employees have participated in live flood exercises annually.

“After exercises like this, we really feel more prepared,” said Calgary Stampede assets manager, park & facility services, Brian Hanley, referring to the emergency preparedness day Stampede employees took part in on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.

Almost 50 Park & Facility services employees, including carpenters, plumbers, electricians, general labourers, administrative employees and team leads, participated in a practice live scenario for flood recovery on Stampede Park. “It took a lot of time, personnel and collaboration to bring the day together,” continued Hanley, “but the time spent preparing for the day, participating in the activities and regrouping afterwards was highly valuable.”

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Six prepared flood carts

Simultaneously, key members of the Stampede gathered for a tabletop exercise[1] of the same 1-100 level flood scenario. “This isn’t a one department or small group response.  An event of this scope and scale –which has the potential to cause significant negative impact to our operation-, requires an ‘all hand’s on-deck’ approach,” described Paul Burrows, security services manager, who oversees the Stampede’s Corporate Response & Resiliency Program (CRRP).

Stampede leaders from all departments across Stampede Park, from communications, people services, business services, sales & event management, security, parking, food & beverage, and more, discussed a play-by-play of what each department’s role would be during the 1-100 level flood scenario. These key crisis management employees discussed what to do as flood severity escalates. “Each business unit has a role. Whether it’s providing support for the initial response or assisting with the recovery and business continuity phase, everyone plays an important part,” added Burrows.

Burrows leading the tabletop exercise

Burrows leading the tabletop exercise

The same was true for the live exercise. “There are so many parts to practice, so every year we practise different tasks with different employees,” Hanley explained. “Our overarching goal is for everyone, no matter their job description, to be able to jump in and know exactly how to handle the situation.” This year, the Park & Facility Services employees practiced six of the approximately 25 measures outlined in the flood emergency preparedness procedure document.

One of the six tasks for 2017 was lowering the railings of the Stampede’s newest bridge, which replaced a bridge that was washed away in the 2013 flood. “This task was especially intriguing for our employees as this year was the first time we practised lowering the rails.” The new bridge was built specially with numerous flood resiliency features in mind. Lowering the rails will allow for water to flow smoothly over the bridge instead of being blocked and creating a dam situation. The employees also practiced removing the benches and planters along the bridge because in flood situations these items could cause damage or create blockages if the river carried them away.

Railings successfully lowered on the Stampede’s newest bridge

Railings successfully lowered on the Stampede’s newest bridge

Also in ENMAX Park and new for this year, the live exercise employees practised removing the panels from Sweetgrass Lodge. “They look like walls but are actually 4’x7’ panels,” described Hanley. Removing the panelled-walls of the stage area will allow for water to pass through smoothly and not create a blockage or dam.

The remaining of the exercises varied from staging flood carts, which are supplies transported to essential areas across Stampede Park, practising sandbagging doors to keep water out, activating sluice gates to keep water from coming up manholes, and fighting water with water. “We fill these large tubes with water and when they’re expanded they’re about three feet high and very durable. They can stop water in its path” said Hanley.

A washroom door sandbagged in ENMAX Park

A washroom door sandbagged in ENMAX Park

 

Stampede employees activating an E09 Sluice Gate

Stampede employees activating an E09 Sluice Gate

“After the live exercises are finished, we sit down and go over the day – and that’s when we really realize the small things that make the big differences,” Hanley continued. The same conclusion was found from Burrow’s tabletop exercise. “Even something as seemingly small as ‘gathering phone chargers’ is on our emergency preparedness list,” said Burrows. “And though people may chuckle at first, communication is essential in times of emergency so this small task is actually extremely essential.”

Feeling confident from the flood emergency preparedness day, Stampede employees are ready to take on the weather this year.

 

 

[1] Tabletop exercises have always been an annual tradition for the Stampede and cover a wide range of emergency situation topics. The flood tabletop is just one the larger series of emergency topics the CRRP covers.

 

Stampede’s solid financial health

In 2016 the Stampede continued to respond to the changing environment while protecting the financial health of the organization. We took on the extra challenge in 2016 to ensure our expenses were aligned with our expected revenue. We worked hard to reduce costs in order to address the anticipated decline in revenue. The end result: a bottom line community investment of more than $2 million in both 2015 and 2016 respectively. This allows us to provide the best support for our community programs, facilities and activities.

Here are some financial and community investment facts:

  • As a not-for-profit organization, our goal is to manage our finances in a way that ensures we can deliver the great experiences our community expects.
  • Yes we had a $12 million reduction to our revenue between 2015 and 2016, but we were very proactive about reducing expenses through both our annual budgets and throughout the past two years since the start of the economic downturn.
  • We expanded our programming and community events with the opening of ENMAX Park in 2016.
  • We continue to actively work with the Calgary Stampede Foundation on the development of Youth Campus.
  • Our ongoing capital budget is higher than it has been over the last couple of years and we are undertaking additional renovations on Stampede Park to make this an even better place for our community.

As a 105-year-old organization steeped in history and tradition we have survived because of our ability to change and adapt. “We continue to be out in our community listening and reacting to what they have to say,” says Warren Connell, Calgary Stampede CEO. “We are looking at how to engage the community and set up programs that appeal to everyone. We have a number of new exciting initiatives planned for the community in 2017 and we look forward to sharing these plans starting this afternoon with an exciting announcement about the Parade.”

The Stampede is a reflection of our community and we work hard to meet and exceed expectations. If you’re interested, we invite you to read our detailed financial statements and learn more about how we give back to the community in our annual Report to the Community.

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Calgary Stampede’s new bridge wins Award of Merit for innovative design

A new bridge that spans the Elbow River, from main Stampede Park to the Stampede’s new ENMAX Park, was recognized by the Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) for its thoughtful design that accommodates western lifestyle and flood resistance. The bridge was completed in June 2015, just in time for Stampede, to replace the old “blue bridge” that was lost during the flood of 2013.

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

Members of the bridge construction team accepting the CEA’s Award of Merit

I spoke with Mark Bowen of Read Jones Chistoffersen Ltd. who accepted the award on behalf of the team and he told me about the planning and construction of the new bridge, and how the design accommodates all of the bridge’s different users.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

The bridge connects Stampede Park’s ENMAX Park with the main land. Photo by Roy Ooms.

Protecting the river while protecting Stampede Park from flooding

Based on its location across the Elbow River’s floodway, the new bridge was to be as flood-proof as possible. “Normal practice in bridge design is to lift the bridge deck above the flood level to minimize obstructions in the river. This project presented unique challenges in the mitigation of flood flows and the design of the deck to withstand the applied loads from flood conditions,” Bowen explained. Continue reading