Springbank reservoir project secures up to $ 165.5 million in federal funding

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The Springbank off-water reservoir, designed to protect Calgary from flooding, will receive up to $ 168.5 million in federal funding, taking it one step closer to completion.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson made the announcement Tuesday in Calgary, and after approving the project earlier this month in light of a report released by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.

He concluded that the Elbow River Reservoir is unlikely to cause significant adverse environmental effects if mitigation measures are in place.

Wilkinson said on Tuesday that Government of Canada funds will come from its Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, and stressed the importance of building infrastructure to prevent damage from climate change.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, left, made the announcement Tuesday in Calgary alongside Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, right. (Axel Tardieu / CBC)

“We are seeing and will see more and more extreme weather events as a result of global warming: forest fires, hotter heat waves, prolonged drought, coastal erosion and flash floods,” Wilkinson said.

“This critical project will directly protect 80,000 Calgarians by diverting floodwater from the river during extreme floods to a temporary reservoir in nearby farmland and wetlands, where it will be stored. “

Flood mitigation project

Alberta Transportation plans to build the $ 432 million reservoir near the rural community of Springbank, Alberta, west of and upstream of Calgary.

The project aims to protect Calgarians and residents of surrounding communities from major flooding, such as the one that occurred in 2013.

It killed five people, flooded the city center, caused billions of dollars in damage and forced tens of thousands to flee.

In Tuesday’s announcement, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Alberta Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney said they were grateful the project could help mitigate similar disasters in the future. .

“The memory of this terrible event remains with me and my fellow citizens even today,” Sawhney said.

“This project should reduce the high flood flows on the elbow [River], and its reservoir, in conjunction with the Glenmore Reservoir, can store flood water at levels seen in 2013. “

The acquisition of the land is not yet complete

Construction is expected to begin next spring if the land acquisitions go smoothly, Sawhney said.

However, she acknowledged that there was still work to be done to purchase the land required for the project, which was strongly rejected by affected landowners for years.

Sawhney said between 42% and 44% of the land acquisition for the reservoir is complete and the rest must be in place by the end of July.

“We continue to engage with landowners – and of course the track time is getting shorter, so we have to make sure we get this job done really quickly,” Sawhney said.

“There are a few people who have very valid concerns, and I can assure you that this engagement will continue.”

As per Wilkinson’s decision to approve the project earlier this month, Alberta Transportation must comply with more than 200 legally binding conditions throughout the life of the project, including measures to protect:

  • Fish and fish habitat.
  • Migrator birds.
  • Human health.
  • Use of land and resources by indigenous peoples.
  • Physical and cultural heritage.
  • Species at risk.

For example, before construction and in consultation with Indigenous groups, Alberta Transportation must finalize a fish and fish habitat compensation plan, the ministry said.

To prevent shoreline erosion, Alberta must also install and maintain sediment fencing and turbidity barriers – due to a risk reported in various reports and by landowners.

The ministry said the agency will apply the listed conditions before construction, during construction and throughout the life of the project.

It is a violation of federal law not to comply with the stated conditions.


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