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Environment

Springbank dam faces another hurdle as opponents celebrate court victory

The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir will be approximately 15 kilometres west of Calgary near Springbank Road, north of the Elbow River and predominantly east of Highway 22. .
The Springbank Off-stream Reservoir will be approximately 15 kilometres west of Calgary near Springbank Road, north of the Elbow River and predominantly east of Highway 22. . Goernment of Alberta

The Springbank dry dam is facing potential delays after opponents of the controversial project scored an important court victory.

Last week, a federal court judge ruled that Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna must decide whether a review panel, or the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency itself, should conduct an environmental assessment of the flood-mitigation project.

The decision comes a year after the agency said it would review the project.

READ MORE: Alberta’s controversial Springbank dam to undergo federal review

It follows a legal challenge by the group Don’t Damn Springbank, which had raised concerns over the impact the project would have on those who live and work in the area.

“We would expect and we hope that the federal government takes an active role in reviewing the province’s work and especially, like I said, the impacts on the environment and on the First Nations, as well as, of course, all of our homes and businesses,” Ryan Robinson told News Talk 770’s Danielle Smith on Tuesday.

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LISTEN BELOW: Don’t Dam Springbank on recent federal court victory

The dam located about 15 kilometers west of Calgary near Springbank Road, north of the Elbow River, would store up to 70.2 million cubic meters of water in the event of a flood.

WATCH BELOW: Fight continues over Springbank Dam

Fight continues over Springbank Dam
Fight continues over Springbank Dam

The decision has been met with consternation by Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who said upstream flood-mitigation work is badly needed.

“These are big, expensive projects,” he said. “But … one of the advantages that Springbank had over the other options, is that it could be constructed more quickly. We haven’t lost a ton of time, but we have lost months on this and I just hope that doesn’t turn into [a] year.”

Calgary’s mayor said he hopes Minister McKenna recognizes that “a lot of the good work has been done already” and comes to her decision quickly.

In a statement Tuesday the Alberta government said it is reviewing the decision to “determine how it could impact the project’s timeline.”

“Nonetheless, our government will do everything in our power to work quickly through the required processes to ensure this important project is built as quickly as possible,” said Aileen Machell, press secretary to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Brian Mason.

The province maintains that the Springbank project is less expensive and has less environmental impact than its alternatives.

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