The United Conservative Party is taking steps aimed at speeding up construction of the Springbank Dam, a planned flood mitigation project west of Calgary.
The highly contentious off-stream reservoir is one of many federally-, municipally- and provincially-funded projects announced following the devastating flooding of 2013. It would work in tandem with the Glenmore Reservoir and hold as much as 70.2 million cubic metres of water.
It’s been the subject of much debate in the years since, with many opponents raising concerns over the environmental assessments and Indigenous consultations around the megaproject.
The government announced on Friday it had appointed lawyer Martin Ignasiak to assess opportunities for possibly expediting the dam’s construction.
“We need an independent expert to evaluate the Springbank Reservoir project and determine what can be done to move this project forward,” Transportation Minister Ric McIver said.
“We are confident that Mr. Ignasiak will help us move quickly to protect the safety and economic security of Calgary and those living in other communities downstream of the Elbow River.”
The government said Ignasiak will assess the project’s status and “and advise the government about immediate action to move the project forward, while respecting the regulatory approval processes and the ongoing consultations required with important stakeholders.”
LISTEN: Karin Hunter of the Springbank Community Association joins Calgary Today to discuss some residents’ opposition to the off-stream reservoir
The project received nearly $170 million in funding from the federal government in March.
The Springbank Dam project is currently being reviewed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Alberta Environment and Parks and the Natural Resources Conservation Board.