Efforts to protect against flood damages need to be supported across the province, says group.
HIGH RIVER, AB – A plan to develop a dry dam reservoir in the Springbank area with the intention of controlling flood waters is receiving support from members of the Alberta Party in Okotoks and High River.
This support comes partly in response to opponents to the project, but also in response to the increased nervousness regarding the levels of the Elbow River and Sheep River this past weekend. The City of Calgary released a high water flow advisory for the Elbow River on July 15, and the Sheep River peaked on July 17 at almost 58 m3/s in Okotoks, over 14 times the rate it was four days earlier.
Opponents to the project include a group of area landowners calling themselves “Don’t Dam Springbank” as well as Foothills MP John Barlow, whose opposition resulted in a federal environmental review launched at the end of June. Public input on how that review will take place wraps up on July 25. The Alberta Party group in Highwood calls the review “duplicitous and unnecessary”.
“The Alberta Government is already well into their own environmental review, and an independent consultant has already reported that the Springbank option is superior in every way to the option this group is suggesting,” said President of the Alberta Party Highwood Constituency Association Joel Windsor.
Deltares, an independent Dutch consulting firm, recommended the Springbank option as superior to other options like a McLean Creek option opponents recommend.
The Alberta Party group joins the litany of those supporting the project, including former and current provincial governments, Calgary residents action groups, Alberta Party Leader and Calgary-Elbow MLA Greg Clark and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
“You can’t please everyone, but delaying the project for a few holdouts is not in the best interests of Calgarians, and all Albertans will be on the hook for additional delays and redundant studies,” said Windsor.
Windsor says he respects the fact that Barlow was responding to constituents who were looking for support, however warns that the majority of Foothills constituents don’t necessarily share the views of a small group of vocal opponents.
“75,000 people in Calgary were evacuated in 2013, and their needs must be met in the most efficient way possible,” said Windsor.
Although the Springbank Dry Dam is outside the Highwood constituency, flood mitigation efforts including the incomplete southwest berm in High River directly affects Highwood residents.
“It would be irresponsible for the Alberta Party members of Highwood to remain quiet regarding opposition to well-researched flood mitigation projects, whether here in Highwood or elsewhere in Alberta,” said Windsor.