Sink or swim
The Elbow River Casino stays afloat after the 2013 floods
Scott Roberts, Director of Marketing at the Elbow River Casino, says the day the 2013 floods ripped through Alberta was one of the craziest days he’s experienced; even after 11-years as Cruise Director for Princess Cruises. He describes the day as perfectly blue-skied and sunny – one that made him feel as if he hadn’t a single worry in the world. He had no idea that when he walked out of the casino doors after evacuating around 1500 customers, he would not return to work for over a month.
For this particular business, flooding posed a very serious threat. Not only because casino-goers can be a tough crowd to escort from winning streaks, but because of the massive amount of electricity that runs through the building. If the power were to be on while people were in the building; and any amount of water were to make it onto the games floor, it would have been fatal. Luckily, each and every guest in the casino made a safe exit – and even when the water was at its very highest, it did not quite reach the main level of the casino. The flooding did, however; make its way into the underground two-level parkade, filling it completely with water. One vehicle unfortunately did not make it out of the parkade and was completely destroyed. Scott says that the water crept all the way up to the top step of the front entrance on 17th Avenue (about 10 steps high).
Because nobody was able to return to the downtown core for multiple days after the flood, it was difficult to assess the casino’s damage. When Scott finally returned to investigate, he compared the downtown area to a warzone. He had absolutely no idea what he was about to walk into when he unlocked the doors. Although the casino suffered very little damage in comparison to many of its neighbouring businesses, it still took an entire month to restore the building to a functioning condition. This was a difficult time for Elbow River Casino, but they made it through, thanks to many volunteers within the community. Scott also mentions that his incredible staff played a huge role in the reopening of the casino. The Elbow River Casino has had its share of tough times, but the team are able to make the best of any situation.
The Elbow River Casino today, is a place where many come to enjoy themselves, just as they did before the floods. Scott says that his goal is to ensure that anyone who comes to the casino has a fun and memorable night. Whether you’re playing the games, dining at one of the wonderful restaurants, or enjoying a few laughs at Yuk Yuk’s, Scott says there is something for everyone at Elbow River. Scott shared that some celebrities have made appearances at the casino, including John Cleese and his daughter (who is also a well-known comedian), players of the Washington Capitals and Samuel L. Jackson.
As Cruise Director with Princess Cruises, Scott worked with international performers and entertainers. He played a big role in the creation of multimillion dollar productions that were enjoyed by thousands of people worldwide. His career and experiences with Princess Cruises are treasured in his heart as some of the most wonderful days of his life. He explained that his time in this role gave him the opportunity to travel around the world to places that he never imaged he would be able to visit. After he and his wife - then the Dance Team Captain on the ship - met, they decided to take a step away from cruise life and to start a life in Calgary. Now parents of twins, they enjoy the city’s wonderful community feel.
Scott describes Vic Park as diverse area with something for everyone. Although Scott does not live in the area, he is an active member in the community, and is the Chair on the Victoria Park BIA Board of Directors. He believes in the community and has confidence that it will one day reach its full potential as a destination for tourists, locals and businesses. He says that Vic Park is a place for all demographics to thrive in. Scott is absolutely positive about the future, and says that the challenges and issues that exist within the community today can be resolved if everyone reaches out and works together. That is what makes a community after all!