Work begins on $744M Springbank off-stream reservoir project

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Construction has started on the $744-million Springbank off-stream reservoir project, which is expected to be partially completed in 2024 and fully completed in 2025, Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday.

The project covers 3,700 acres and the aim is to protect Calgary and other areas along the Bow and Elbow Rivers from a once-in-a-century flood event, like the one that hit in 2013, causing an estimated $5 billion in damage across southern Alberta.

"This is a major moment and great news for the people of Calgary and surrounding areas," said Kenney, adding the project is expected to create 2,200 jobs.

"This is a result of a total taxpayer investment of $744 million, of which $576 million is being provided by Alberta taxpayers through the provincial government."

Of that, $473 million is earmarked in the current budget, said Kenney.

"This is one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the province," he said.

Vinci Infratructure Canada Ltd. was awarded the contract.

Diversion channels off the Elbow River will be constructed to displace high water into an off-stream reservoir near Springbank, west of Calgary, during major flooding events. The water will be stored there until it can be released back into the Elbow River.

"As a dry reservoir, SR1 is a key element of Alberta's flood mitigation infrastructure," said Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney.

Since the project was announced about eight years ago, it had faced opposition from some Springbank landowners and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, who were in favour of another location for the reservoir further upstream.

Despite the opposition Sawhney said all land needed for the project was acquired voluntarily, and there was no need for expropriations.