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‘They’re wrong’: War of words erupts after Springbank dry dam comes up in Question Period

Click to play video: 'Poll commissioned by Springbank landowners has ‘misinformation’ according to government' Poll commissioned by Springbank landowners has ‘misinformation’ according to government
WATCH ABOVE: Springbank landowners commissioned their own poll they say shows Calgarians prefer other options than the Springbank dam for flood mitigation, but the Alberta government isn’t buying it. Tracy Nagai reports. – May 18, 2016

Comments made in Question Period at the Alberta Legislature last week have sparked outrage from some Springbank landowners and they want a retraction.

On May 11, Wildrose MLA Leela Aheer asked for further details surrounding the project, specifically wanting to know what the current total estimated cost of the project is.

In response, Transportation Minister Brian Mason said the government is currently in the process of talking to landowners about acquiring their land.

But in a statement Tuesday, a group of unnamed Springbank landowners called that “patently false.”

“Minster Mason’s assertion that there are ongoing discussions about land acquisition is a fantasy,” the statement read. “Landowners are opposed to the project. We remain opposed to the project. And we have not entered into any such discussions with this government. Landowners call on the minister to retract that false statement.”

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Global News reached Mason Tuesday afternoon for comment and he didn’t mince any words.

“They’re wrong,” he said. “There has been discussions with some landowners. This group may not be aware of it, but that’s their problem.”

Mason said he won’t speculate on property values.

“I recognize the landowners’ desire to get the maximum possible price for their properties,” he said, but added the government is looking to get the best possible deal on the land for the people of Alberta.

Mason said the Springbank dry dam is a critical project and that people’s safety is the government’s highest priority.

“We are determined not to see a repeat of the disastrous floods of 2013,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Fight continues over Springbank Dam' Fight continues over Springbank Dam
Fight continues over Springbank Dam – Apr 22, 2016

WATCH ABOVE: Rural landowners are not giving up their fight to block the Springbank dam west of Calgary. Gary Bobrovitz reports.

The flood mitigation project will divert the Elbow River into the new storage reservoir in Springbank, located on top of Val Vista Ranch. It’s part of an overall provincial flood mitigation strategy, following $6 billion in damage caused by widespread flooding in southern Alberta in June 2013.

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The government said in October its decision to build the Springbank reservoir instead of a dam along McLean Creek was made after the province commissioned an independent review by Dutch research foundation Deltares.

With files from Gary Bobrovitz

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