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.”

Flood Carts

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.

 

2017 Calgary Stampede Canvas Auction: Perspectives from a Newbie

Four months before guests gather to watch the chuckwagons race at the Calgary Stampede, potential sponsors for the chuckwagon canvases gather on Stampede Park to place their bids. The 2017 Canvas Auction, presented by GMC, took place Thursday, March 23 and set the stage for the always long-awaited and much-anticipated GMC Rangeland Derby. As a born and raised Calgarian, I’ve been to the races plenty of times, but seeing the other side of it at the Canvas Auction put a whole new perspective on the build-up to, and community pride of, the drivers and support for the sport.

Left to Right: Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savannah Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

Left to Right: 2017 Stampede Princess Brittany Lloyd, Queen Meagan Peters, Indian Princess Savanna Sparvier, Princess Lizzie Ryman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As folks gathered on Stampede Park, hearty handshakes were given between bidders and drivers, while naturally curious fans gathered in a separate viewing area to see how it would all play out. In the Boyce Theatre where the action was happening, drivers were led onto the stage one-by-one by the 2017 Stampede Royalty; Indian Princess, Savanna Sparvier, Stampede Queen, Meagan Peters, and Stampede Princess’ Brittany Lloyd and Lizzie Ryman. The drivers were put under the spotlight, with the highest bidder winning the right to sponsor the driver and have their brand advertised on the canvas of the particular sponsored wagon. Continue reading

With 77,000 Christmas Lights and 500 hours of work, Stampede Park has a beautiful public display for the holiday season

“I like my blue trees the best, they’re my signature look,” said Sandy McAfee, park maintenance supervisor and Christmas lights display expert, when asked about the stunning lights display across Stampede Park. McAfee shared that her team, which consist of two core lights-hangers, Kevin Smith and Glen Felt of the Park Maintenance team, as well as four to five additional helpers, bases the lights displays around the locations on Stampede Park. “We use blue and white for the BMO Centre, since those are BMO’s colours, and Stampede colours, red and white, for the Stampede Headquarters Building and main roadway.”

Christmas Lights Stampede Park

McAfee’s signature blue trees have been featured in a lot of surprising places – most notably, they were included digitally outside the Saddledome in one of the old NHL Hockey Xbox games!

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A tour of ENMAX Park

Summer is just around the corner and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the city! This past weekend, I took a detour along the Elbow River and through the newly completed ENMAX Park. An exciting addition to Stampede Park in 2016, ENMAX Park will serve as Indian Village’s new home during Stampede and function as a inner-city green space year round.

ENMAX Park

Calgary is known for our extensive network of pathways, totalling almost 800 km throughout the city, and ENMAX Park lies at the heart of it all. A few hundred metres from where the Elbow and Bow River pathways converge, and a stone’s throw from the Stampede facilities, the Park is an oasis.

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You can stroll or ride along the river, relax on a bench, and check out the new public art piece, Rainbow Trout.

Rainbow Trout

If you are feeling up to it, you can even climb the stairs for an unbelievable view of Stampede Park and downtown Calgary.

View

And what about during Stampede?  The new ENMAX Park is more than three times the size of Indian Village’s previous location and will allow the 26 tipis, representing the five nations of Treaty 7, to be arranged in a traditional circle formation. The expansive green space includes a performance pavilion and the refurbished Sweetgrass Lodge. Visitors will find all their favourite Indian Village activities in the new location, including cooking demonstrations, tipi raising competitions, and traditional arts and craft displays. The Bannock Booth is also moving to ENMAX Park and will be housed in Sweetgrass Lodge.  Official Opening Ceremonies and Camp Moving Ceremony for Indian Village will take place on Friday, July 8, the first day of Calgary Stampede 2016. You will be able to access the park via a new pedestrian bridge near the Kids’ Midway area and the new MacDonald Avenue Pedestrian Entry.

There are just over 30 days until Stampede 2016, which gives you plenty of time to check out ENMAX Park before the grand opening. In it’s inaugural spring, ENMAX Park is shaping up to be a beautiful inner-city green space that Calgarians can enjoy year round!

Meet Allison Healy, Tipi Owner from the Blood Tribe (Kainai Nation)

This year, Indian Village moves to ENMAX Park. The 26 tipis represent the five nations of Treaty 7: Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani. Each tipi has a unique design on the outside. Approximately 500 people will live in Indian Village during the 10 days, with daily performances adding another 1,000 people per day. More than 40 competitions and events take place in Indian Village during the July Stampede.

In part two of a five part series, we speak with a tipi owner from each of the five tribes of Treaty 7. Today’s blog post is a chat with Allison Healy of Kainai Nation.

After celebrating their 30th year at Indian Village presented by PennWest last summer, the Healy family will once again set up their tipi, adorned with yellow and green paint featuring a water serpent, along with elk and deer. In what started through a family connection, Allison Healy and her family are regulars and very involved.

Allison’s late husband, Earl, started helping at Indian Village in the early 1980s. Once an opening for a new tipi owner came up, Earl and the Healys took it.

“We had a relative who was one of the tipi owners so my husband helped with set up… for a couple of years,” Allison Healy said. “My husband wanted to be a tipi holder and start camping there. This was after our relative had quit so he took over.” Continue reading

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

New adventures, new home for Aggie Days!

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to kiss a llama? Or how a tiny bee can turn nectar into honey? At Aggie Days the answers, adventures and wonder await! And this year you will be able to find them in the Agrium Western Event Centre.

“The new location means a new way of exploring Aggie Days. As you walk through the Agrium Centre and wander through AltaLink Hall you will find new things to see and do,” says Aggie Days committee member Josh Traptow. “Our Aggie Days team has also been working hard to ensure there are brand new experiences for our visitors, many who join us year after year, but also familiar ones as well.”

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Children can get up close and personal with a variety of animals at Aggie Days

Aggie Days is a place of wonder where children can see and learn about where their food comes from, how animals can be hard working helpers and of course, have a lot of fun. From farmers and ranchers, bee keepers to weavers, many different experts will be sharing their love for what they do and just how exactly it all happens. Continue reading

Highlights from the 2016 Calgary Stampede Annual General Meeting

Positivity and progress were reoccurring themes at the Calgary Stampede’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Shareholders gathered at Stampede Park to vote for the board of directors, receive financial and shareholder updates, and hear from president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray, and chief executive officer, Warren Connell.

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

president & chairman of the board of directors, Bill Gray (L), chief executive officer, Warren Connell (R)

Gray spoke of the milestones celebrated in 2015, including the Stampede’s new partnership with the Calgary Opera to create a new opera space on Stampede Park, and of the achievements of the Stampede’s many youth education and development programs. “When I started as the Stampede’s president & chairman of the board, I knew that our organization, on a year-round basis, was very committed to youth education.  What I did not appreciate was the breadth and extent of our involvement in those programs,” he said. Continue reading

Calgary Stampede hosts 10 Chinese chefs for kitchen tour

Cowboy culture and a deep appreciation for Stampede time drew 10 Chinese chefs from Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing out to tour our Food & Beverage facilities late last month.

These international guests traveled to our fair province to learn more about Alberta Beef, our culinary scene and world-famous hospitality industries; they traveled with Cargill representatives to tour various locations during their week-long stay.

Pictured: (in white jackets) Chef Dale and Chef Kwong making memories with the Chinese tour group and Cargill representatives. Our guests not only got a tour of Stampede facilities, they also got a chance to check out the public art pieces on Stampede Park, like the Roundup, featured behind the group

Pictured: (in white jackets) Chef Dale and Chef Kwong making memories with the Chinese tour group and Cargill representatives. Our guests not only got a tour of Stampede facilities, they also got a chance to check out the public art pieces on Stampede Park, like the Roundup, featured behind the group

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2016 Calgary Stampede poster and the poster artwork legacy

The Calgary Stampede unveiled our 2016 poster in the Shaikh Family Welcome Gallery of the Calgary Public Library’s central branch on October 5, 2015. Community members and Stampede volunteers and employees were thrilled when the curtain pulled back to reveal the priceless piece by award-winning local artist, Michelle Grant: Born to Buck, pictured below.

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“When you visit the Stampede Ranch in Hanna [Alberta], you witness many scenes of horses running freely in the fields together,” said Bill Gray, president & chairman of the Calgary Stampede board of directors, “and that was the inspiration for the poster.” Continue reading

2015 Aboriginal Awareness Family Day Festival and Pow Wow Competition

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The 2015 National Aboriginal Week festivities included an exciting full day of cultural exchange on Stampede Park. On Saturday, June 20, Indian Village hosted a family day Pow Wow. For First Nations peoples, the Pow Wow is a chance to connect with family and old friends, in addition to making new friends.

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The day began with a free pancake breakfast, followed by the grand entry and opening remarks, a pow wow, Métis jigging and hoop dancing. Former Grand National Chief Phil Fontaine, and the comedian Don Burnstick also spoke to the crowds. 

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Pictured: a buffalo float contribution to the 2015 Parade. The first Stampede Parade took place on September 2, 1912. It was lead by 1,800 Treaty 7 First Nations people in full regalia. Today, it’s one of the largest parades in North America, second only to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

 

 

 

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Pictured: Indian Princesses-in-training practicing their fancy dance moves.

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Did someone say gathering place?

It amazes me how much this place has changed and grown over the nearly 14 years I have been an employee at the Calgary Stampede. I have seen buildings torn down; new buildings go up, changes in leadership, changes in departments, and changes in responsibilities … really so much change!

Photo Credit: Chris Bolin

This past month has really shown me personally just how much of a gathering place we are for both the local community and visitors from a far. I have had the pleasure of welcoming my own friends and family to three different events hosted on Stampede Park in the last 30 days. Friends have called to see if I can come and say hi while they are here, asking if I have had anything to do with the event they are attending, and to answer their questions about the various services that might be available to them while they are visiting Stampede Park.

In May, I received a call from a friend who was going to be attending the Canadian National Volleyball Championships, as her daughter was playing on a team. She wanted to know what options might be available to the team for food & beverage … of which there were plenty to share with her. While at work during the event, I ran into my friends in the concourse – I was able to have a quick chat with them and even sneak a peek of their daughter playing volleyball in Hall E of the BMO Centre.

Shortly thereafter, another friend shared they would be attending some of the grad festivities here on park – their daughter was graduating and attending her formal banquet at the BMO Centre. Photos and stories of their night were shared on Facebook, showcasing our amazing venue and beautiful décor. It was a sight to see, knowing that I had played a very small part in such a special occasion and celebration for them.

Today is the first day of the Global Petroleum Show – an international event that allows us to showcase our fantastic venues and western hospitality to the world. Yesterday afternoon I received a call from a family member who I haven’t seen in quite some time – he is exhibiting at the Global Petroleum Show – and until he arrived in Calgary, he had no idea that the show was actually at Stampede Park. We have now made plans to connect and I will be able to share with him all of the wonderful things both the show has to offer, but also our amazing park.

These last 30 days have really reminded me about what it is we are here to do. We are here to welcome all those who choose to visit; we are here to showcase what we can do together as a team; we are here to bring our community together through the western hospitality that is the heart and soul of our organization.

I have never been more amazed by what we can do and more proud to say I work for the Calgary Stampede.

Learn to do by doing!

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The 4-H on Parade, presented by Cervus Equipment wrapped up today with showings by many impressive Albertan youths.

Stampede Park was particularly busy this week with the wave of high school graduations (congratulations, class of 2015!) and various conferences, however, this didn’t stop us from also cheering on enthusiastic 4-H members as they shared their final projects.

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The Calgary Stampede’s Agricultural mission is to create meaningful year-round experiences for urban and rural audiences on Stampede Park by producing/hosting signature programs that feature animals, showcases, and western events–naturally, we are thrilled to host Canada’s largest gathering of 4-H clubs and members each year! Continue reading