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RVC withdraws opposition to SR1

Rocky View County (RVC) council has withdrawn its official objection to the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir (SR1).

During a regular meeting May 12, council voted 6-3 to withdraw its opposition to the controversial project undergoing environmental and regulatory review by the federal government’s Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) review, as well as the Alberta government.

According to a press release from RVC, the decision was made after the Alberta government announced $196.3 million to help continue work on SR1 over the next three years.

“With the province’s clear commitment to SR1, RVC will allow any concerns or issues over the project to be dealt with through the relevant approval processes,” the release stated.

The vote comes 18 months after RVC council voted to oppose SR1 in December 2018, unless 'other flood mitigation options were subjected to a full analysis.'

Area Coun. Kim McKylor was one of the three dissenting votes, along with Coun. Jerry Gautreau and Reeve Greg Boehlke.

“RVC has repeatedly expressed its firm commitment to flood mitigation that would assist the city of Calgary,” she wrote on Facebook following the meeting. “Since SR1 was first announced, County council's efforts have always been focused on ensuring that the right project be selected to provide the needed flood protection. To Springbank residents, the NRCB has a full suite of data and submissions on the project, and anything that is likely to delay, kill, or change SR1 is already there for them to consider. The County's opinions are now largely irrelevant. If the NRCB finds something amiss, they will move to correct it.”

McKylor also thanked the efforts of the Springbank Community Association and members of Don't Damn Springbank – a grassroots group of area residents that formed to challenge the project, and suggest alternative options for flood relief.

“It is work that is has not gone unnoticed from many, and I certainly have hopes that the real concerns raised give this project pause at the federal level,” McKylor said.

Following council's vote, Coun. Mark Kamachi made a motion that if RVC receives any compensation from the provincial or federal government regarding damages and/or loss of tax revenue from the lands associated with the project, those funds would be earmarked for recreational or cultural amenities in Springbank.

“This was one of the toughest decisions ever,” he said. “It affects Bragg Creek, Redwood Meadows and Springbank. If this compensation can go towards those areas...we've seen the traffic circle get taken away, and I'm just at the point where, even today's announcement that there's more money going towards this project. I just think it's inevitable it's going to happen.”

Council approved Kamachi's motion, with Coun. Kevin Hansen saying it was “the only good thing coming out of this.”

“Folks in Springbank are being impacted every day by this, and I think this is only fair and just,“ he said. “The tax is really a red herring – I think this is more of a quality of life situation.”

Coun. Gautreau was the sole opposing vote.

The Alberta government initially announced SR1 in 2014 as a flood mitigation effort in the wake of the 2013 floods. The reservoir, which would be located in west RVC and on Tsuut’ina First Nation land, would be designed to help control Elbow River flow rates during a flood and help protect residents and property in RVC and Calgary. The reservoir, initially priced at $250 million, would temporarily store flood water and release it back to the Elbow River in a controlled manner when the flood subsides.

The project has received backlash from various groups over the years, including residents in Springbank and the Tsuut’ina First Nation. Opponents have cited the cost, potential environmental impacts and lack of transparency and consultation from the government surrounding the project.

Tsuut'ina First Nation officially withdrew its formal objection in April. According to spokesperson Gordon Olsen, newly elected Chief Roy Whitney was looking to reopen discussions to help the project break ground.

“He was willing to have a discussion with the proponents of SR1, mainly the provincial government,” Olsen said. “The new Minister [of Transportation] the honourable Ric McIver was really prepared to listen to what the concerns were and to find ways to mitigate those concerns.”

In a CBC report, Tsuut'ina First Nation stated it had received a $32 million grant from the government in exchange for removing its objection to the project.

–With files from Chelsea Kemp/


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