Residents upset after Notley reneges on plan to scrap Springbank dam


WATCH ABOVE: During the election the NDP promised to cancel the Prentice government’s plan to divert the Elbow River to a new storage reservoir in Springbank, but the Notley government says it’s not off the table yet. Mia Sosiak reports.

SPRINGBANK, Alta. – Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is reneging on an election promise to scrap an off-stream reservoir in Springbank, located on top of Val Vista Ranch. The controversial flood mitigation project would divert the Elbow River into the new storage reservoir, and it’s not off the table yet.

“Last night’s news was disappointing to us,” said Ryan Robinson, who grew up on the ranch.

Environment minister Shannon Phillips said Wednesday all options are still on the table and the government wants to “get it right.”

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“I am not convinced that every decision that the previous PC government made was terrible,” said Phillips. “But I’m also not convinced yet that their ideas and approaches were entirely within the public interest. And that’s why we’re taking the time to sort of review all of our options right now.”

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For now, a contract to design and engineer the project is ongoing.

READ MORE: Bragg Creek versus Calgary – Residents fight for flood protection

Liz Breakey is a councillor on Rockyview County Council, and called it a “punch to the gut.”

“I believed that there would be a fresh look at the entire watershed, because that’s what the election platform said, that we would look at all viable options with fresh eyes,” said Breakey.

The councillor says Albertans have been misled about how long environmental work and expropriation will take, along with the true cost of relocating roads. She says Rockyview County didn’t accept the province’s numbers, so it paid for its own study.

“The county has redone the cost-benefit analysis – for an independent view – and certainly the answer that came back is that it’s a multiple of what has been suggested,” said Breakey, pegging the costs at $1 billion instead of the suggested $250 million.

During the election, the NDP supported construction of a different wet reservoir upstream from Bragg Creek on Crown Land in Kananaskis. Supporters suggested it could pay for itself through tourism opportunities, and wouldn’t affect landowners or livelihoods.

“We’re going to be fighting the dam with everything we have,” said Robinson. “The Springbank option is not faster, it’s not cheaper, and it’s the wrong policy for Alberta.”

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Robinson, one of 18 landowners in the Don’t Damn Springbank group who could lose land over the reservoir, says he’s confident the Notley government will come to agree with him.

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