Feds announce $168.5M for Springbank dam project

The federal government will provide $168.5 million toward the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir Project, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson announced Tuesday.

The money comes from the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF). The announcement follows the federal government signing off on the project earlier this month after it was determined not to have major environmental impacts.

The Springbank dam project would create a temporary reservoir, held in by a kilometre-long berm, to keep floodwater from spilling over the Elbow River banks.

Earlier this month the plan received the green light from the federal government, after it was determined to not have major environmental impacts.

It's the second major flood mitigation project that has now passed several hurdles in the eight years since the 2013 floods. The project is expected to cost $432 million. 

Flood mitigation has become a priority since the 2013 floods which caused more than $5 billion in damage in southern Alberta

The Springbank project would create a temporary reservoir, held in by a kilometre-long berm to keep floodwater from spilling over the Elbow River banks.

Diversion channels will displace high water away from properties -- but property owners will have to sell some land to make way for the dry reservoir.

Over the past eight years the project has faced opposition from landowners in Springbank and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.

The Tsuut’ina Nation eventually offered support in an agreement in April 2020.

ACQUIRING LAND

Landowners are in negotiations with the province over compensation for their land.

Tuesday, Alberta Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney said 42 to 44 percent of land has been acquired, with the remainder needing to be acquired by the end of July.

“The province has engaged very faithfully and very confidently,” she said.

“We will continue having these conversations with impacted land owners to make sure again, we are listening and that they feel heard.”

Residents CTV News reached out to today did not want to speak on the record, in fear of losing compensation from the province.

The Springbank Community Association said the project was doomed from the beginning.

“If we could rewind the clock to 2013-14 and take a better look at this decisions, we would have had a different outcome completely,” said president Karin Hunter.

“The deck was stacked against the landowners.”

Hunter said landowners feel defeated.

“It’s really disappointing for them to know that their land is going and not to be used for something they view as a benefit to our province or our community,” she said.

Residents said they feel betrayed by the UCP government, which campaigned on protecting rights for property owners.

“In regards to property rights,(and)  this government, it's laughable,” said Hunter.

“They can say one thing and do the complete opposite.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that Springbank residents opposed to the project need to have compassion for those living in Calgary who either died or lost property in the floods.

“Remember that you work in Calgary, you use Calgary services, that you come to downtown Calgary,” said Nenshi.

“Ultimately we have to protect the city of Calgary, (and) this is the right solution.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the federal injection of cash support will help Calgary stay protected from further devastation similar to the 2013 floods.

“There was as much as six billion dollars in financial losses and property damage across southern Alberta,” he said.

“Well that horse has bolted. We can’t trust luck and to fate that this won’t happen again. The hits just keep on coming.”