The Story of the Shocked City

In 2040, Calgary oscillates between being a city in drought and a flooded city. Despite the extremes, Calgary is vibrant and resilient. Much was learned from the 2013 flood and city leaders pushed for the adoption of smart technologies and practices. Incentives were widely offered to encourage homeowners and businesses to adopt critical practices that have contributed to the cities resiliency. Floodplains have been prioritized as at-risk areas. These measures resulted in new business opportunities and prepared the city for the major flood of 2029 – which resulted in far less damage than the 2013 flood. In 2040, Calgarians value water after learning from past experiences. So local decision makers make water wise decisions without fear of being punished.

Calgary has adapted to periods of flooding and drought by collecting and storing stormwater. Regulations and building codes support water reuse (plumbing codes exist for greywater and rainwater use and rooftop gardens capture rainwater) and water infiltration. Also, water/wastewater rates have risen dramatically. Water rates are tiered based on quantity of use and larger users are charged more per liter. Further incentives are offered to reduce water use during times of drought. Tradeable water consumption credits and debits also exist for institutions, commercial and industrial operations. Calgary is also adapting to an influx of climate change refugees, who have conflicting values and needs.

The Story of Vibrant World City

By 2040, Calgary city core has increased the density and sprawl has slowed. Over the last twenty years, Calgary has developed into a resilient city that is able to cope with extreme weather events. This resiliency was achieved by sustained long-term thinking by local decision makers who implemented and adapted policies and standards to meet changing contexts. Calgary heavily invested in: connectivity, green/adaptive infrastructure, wise watershed management, public transit, low impact development and green spaces. Adaptive architecture (e.g. housing on stilts) are common for high water scenarios and greenspaces is used to infiltrate and hold excess water while also providing community gathering places. Incentives are offered to encourage rooftops gardens, solar and wind power generation. Calgary leaders realize that community members hold many of the answers to climate change adaptation and consults them for their insight. To encourage participation in building this resilient future Calgary has worked with the media to engage citizens and tap into the strong volunteer culture, to encourage participation in climate change adaptation efforts. Also, city water and related system data is available to the public for research and innovative solution creation.


The Story of Energy Collapse City

This scenario contains two potential outcomes of energy collapse:

  1. Transition to an alternative energy economy
  2. Continuing with a fossil fuel economy


1. Transition to Alternative Energy: A drop in oil prices related to global supply and demand has made the cost to produce and refine oil sands unfeasible. This prompts a transition to alternative energies and a more diversified economy. Integrated decision-making structures have resulted in integrated and holistic decision-making structures for wise governance. Calgary also has a smart energy grid and compiles data to make informed decisions. Leadership knows that water and energy are deeply connected.  Experimentation is welcomed and approvals streamlined so that alternative energy sources and water innovations technologies are quickly brought to market.

2. Fossil Fuel Economy: There has been a major oil collapse, larger in scale than what happened in 2014/15. This has resulted in a drop in oil prices due to supply and demand. There are conversations about the costs and inputs (social, environmental impacts, water and energy) to refining fossil fuels. However, politicians at all levels of government remain driven by short-term campaign strategies that do not build resiliency. This short-term thinking leads to: poverty, devaluation of real estate, infrastructure collapse and population loss. So more people are using rainwater and greywater with the decline of infrastructure as a result of a shrinking tax base.

The Story of Mega City Sprawl

The year is 2040 and Calgary has accommodated its growing population by creating a sprawling megacity. Low density and reliance on traditional infrastructure has made it difficult to service and maintain in a cost effective manner. The increased population and unfettered water consumption patterns have pushed water demand to an all time high in an already over allocated water system. Developments are encouraged on the outside of the city as a result of cheaper property costs due to agriculture, pasture and floodplains not being economically valued. New developments have had ecological consequences and threaten local food security. Local government realize that that the status quo was not sustainable, so neighbourhoods built after 2040 tend to be more focused on mixed land use with alternate water sources.


Canadian Water Network
RBC Blue Water