Business

High River launches campaign to shift public perceptions away from the flood

CALGARY — Jodi Dawson thinks it's high time people stopped talking about High River's soggy history.

The town of 12,000 just south of Calgary gained an international profile three years ago when flooding in parts of southern Alberta resulted in billions of dollars in damage.

High River was one of the hardest-hit communities. Entire neighbourhoods were under water for weeks.

Dawson, High River's economic development manager, says a lot has changed in three years and it's time to put the past behind.

"We need to overcome that now at an Alberta level," said Dawson.

"We absolutely can't erase it. It happened, but what we can do is a much better job of highlighting what we've been able to do since that time."

High River has developed a new economic development and marketing campaign to attract new businesses, residents and visitors to town.

The campaign, which is to run until next year, is aimed at shifting perceptions away from the flood, said Dawson, who added it's a bit frustrating being remembered as the town where a big flood took place.

"I guess it's a reality. It's what we do and what we remember. That's why this campaign and any proactive communicating we do is so important," she said.

"We need to replace some of that imagery in people's minds and know that we're back and we're well-positioned for high returns."

There's no indication that investors and businesses are shying away from High River because of the flood, Dawson said, but there are a lot of questions about ensuring history doesn't repeat itself.

"We reiterate that a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of very smart engineers have put their time together to determine a good strategy for protecting and making sure this never happens again.

"We're the most flood-protected community in Canada as a result of what we've been through."

The town's "High Praises" campaign uses different phrases to showcase key aspects of living in the community, including "High Life" for the quality of living and "High Returns" for entrepreneurial spirit.

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