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Alberta government moving Springbank reservoir project ahead with response to regulators

Val Vista Ranch Springbank
Ryan Robinson's Val Vista Ranch would be expropriated if the Notley government builds the Springbank Dry Dam for flood mitigation. . Global News

The Alberta government is moving the Springbank off-stream reservoir (SR-1) project ahead, providing provincial and federal regulators with an 8,000-page document in response to information requests.

The requests come from regulators like Alberta Environment and Parks, the Natural Resources Conservation Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

READ MORE: UCP appoints lawyer in hopes of expediting construction of Springbank Dam

Topics include costs and benefits, Indigenous consultation, water and hydrogeology, land use and environmental impacts.

LISTEN BELOW: Springbank dam alternatives

Approved by the Jim Prentice government in 2014 and reapproved by the Rachel Notley government when the NDP took office, the UCP government pledged Friday to do everything in its power to get regulatory approval for the flood mitigation project.

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READ MORE: Alberta’s Springbank off-stream reservoir receives $187M in federal funding

Watch below: Some Global News videos about flood mitigation in Alberta.

“Our government is committed to protecting Calgary and surrounding lands from the risk of floods,” Transportation Minister Ric McIver said Friday.

McIver said flood mitigation for Calgary and area is a “top priority” for the UCP government.

“Make no mistake, that day is coming. It’s not a question of if the Elbow River will flood, it’s a matter of when.”

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McIver said the next step from the provincial government will be public and stakeholder consultation.

READ MORE: Alberta’s Springbank reservoir faces another delay due to regulatory review

“Calgarians, Rocky View County citizens, landowners, the Tsuut’ina Nation community, industry associations, other groups and the general public will continue to be consulted as we move the project forward,” the transportation minister said.

“Our goal is to alleviate those concerns — hopefully completely. But if not completely, then to the greatest degree possible.”

Rocky View County Reeve Greg Boehlke said other options should be considered in place of the Springbank reservoir.

“We’re pleased that SR-1 is undergoing the kind of thorough review that Minister McIver outlined today,” Boehlke said in a statement.

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“Our position is that the other flood mitigation options should see the same level of attention so that we can make the best possible choices.”

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Rocky View County Council voted to oppose the project in December 2018, wanting to see what the other options were for flood mitigation, including at McLean Creek, Priddis and the Tsuut’ina Nation.

READ MORE: Ranchers team up with Tsuut’ina to oppose Springbank dam

“The previous conservative government went to worldwide experts and came to the conclusion that SR-1 was a more viable choice than MC-1,” McIver said. “And the NDP government… came to the same conclusion.”

If approved, construction will take two years to have partial capacity, with full construction expected to be completed in three years.

–with files from Aurelio Perri