Some residents of west Rocky View County (RVC) continue to oppose the provincial government’s proposed Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir project (SR1), and presented to RVC’s Policy and Priority Committee (PPC) May 1.
John Robinson spoke on behalf of Don’t Damn Springbank – a grassroots group of landowners and concerned residents – to request council declare support for McLean Creek as a preferred flood mitigation site.
“We understand that there are ongoing negotiations between RVC, the province and the City (of Calgary),” Robinson said. “We contend that RVC council holds a first duty to its constituents who face a loss of land, history and livelihood for a project that hurts RVC.”
Don’t Damn Springbank’s primary concern is SR1 will mitigate flooding for Calgary at the expense of communities which will be put at risk, such as Springbank, Bragg Creek, Tsuut’ina First Nation and Redwood Meadows.
According to Robinson, opposition for the project is growing – and now includes local landowners along with the Tsuut’ina First Nation, Kamp Kiwanis, and residents of Redwood Meadows and Bragg Creek.
Despite this opposition, he said, the Alberta government remains committed to the project. The 2018 budget includes funds for land-acquisition, but according to Robinson, several regulatory hurdles remain – making it unlikely construction of the project will begin before the next provincial election.
“As we see it, the Alberta Government is still misleading Albertans,” Robinson said. “The estimate of the project costs are grossly understated.”
Additionally, Robinson said the province is ignoring obvious harm to neighbours. A hydrologist hired by Tsuut’ina landowners suggests the First Nation and Kamp Kiwanis would likely be at risk of flooding.
According to a report by Deltares – an institute for applied research in the field of water – flood mitigation at McLean Creek would achieve a “similar reduction in flood risk,” Robinson said. No additional measures would be required to protect Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows, he added.
Reeve Greg Boehlke said the County has engaged two consultants to provide a report on dust, health impacts and the overall effectiveness of the Springbank Reservoir.
“We are sympathetic to our landowners and we’re sympathetic to the City of Calgary needing flood mitigation, as well as Bragg Creek and upstream,” he said. “The Tsuut’ina have been a good neighbor and are strongly affected, and we are going to stand up.”
Boehlke said it appears the government “has dug their heels in on this one, and for some reason aren’t going to back off no matter what.” He added getting the support of the region is necessary to see positive change.
Lee Drewry, a landowner and member of Don’t Damn Springbank, said the group was satisfied their message was heard by PPC.
“They were certainly open to our messaging and sympathetic to our cause,” he said. “I don’t think anybody in RVC wants this project to occur.”
According to Grant Kaiser, manager of Communication Services, RVC will make a written submission regarding SR1 as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) collects public comments on its revised Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), released March 2018. CEAA is collecting feedback until May 31.
As part of that process, two information sessions will be held on the environmental assessment of the project this month. The first will take place at the Wild Wild West Event Centre in Springbank May 22, with another May 24 at the First Calgary Church of the Nazarene in Calgary. Both sessions will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.