Springbank Dam is not the right answer to Calgary's flood risk. It's not faster. It's not cheaper. And it simply does not protect enough people.
The Springbank project was supposed to be quicker than a dam at McLean Creek as less environmental review would be needed. But, a year later and in spite of the Province's many attempts to avoid one, the Springbank project has attracted a federal review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). CEAA is reporting that 97 percent of the 1000 responses received oppose the project - a percentage even higher than a recent poll showing that a majority of Calgarians oppose the project.
The Springbank project was supposed to be easy, but landowners, the surrounding communities, municipal government, and many others have stood up and said no. And will continue to say no. Our opposition is based on the simple realization that a dam in Springbank is bad public policy. McLean Creek would provide more and better protection against floods, to more Albertans, for less money and without having to expropriate heritage ranches and cause irreparable damage to a rural community.
Albertans deserve to be aware of the massive price tag for this project. Since the original cost benefit in 2015, estimates of the cost of changes to Highway 22 alone have increased by a factor of at least 10 times. The size of the project has skyrocketed, yet no new total cost estimates have been released. Why? Because they are being hidden to avoid the reality that Springbank is no longer the cheapest project. In fact, the only way that the Springbank project could possibly be cheaper than other options, is if the Government were to just seize control of the land from the landowners without buying it. Ominously, the government has floated this possibility with terms like “flood and compensate” or creating “flood easements”. That is something that should send a chill down the spine of every Albertan who owns land or any other form of property.
Why are we still wasting time on Springbank?
Proponents of the project rely heavily on a report prepared by the Deltares group from the Netherlands. However, that report contained no new science, and only reviewed the work that was done by Alberta Government consultants. They consulted only with Government bureaucrats and the consultants hired by these bureaucrats. They relied on the biased reports that advocated for the Springbank project to conclude that the Springbank project was the best. They did not consult with residents, with other levels of government, or with First Nations. Even so, they were less than definitive in their endorsement of Springbank. And since they wrote their report, the size of the Springbank proposal, and its associated costs, have ballooned. If and when a new cost-benefit analysis is prepared, it should sink any remaining support for this white elephant.
Albertans need to act. Tell your MLA not to waste another year on Springbank and start work on flood mitigation now at McLean Creek – for less cost and on land that the government already owns.
ATTENTION RESIDENTS OF SPRINGBANK AND WEST CALGARY:
The Government of Alberta quietly released the full project description of the Springbank Dam. Hidden deep in the document are very real health risks to Springbank and west Calgary including air borne contaminants and changes to local ground water. Here’s one excerpt to be aware of:
“After the floodwaters have been released, the sediments remaining in the Off-stream Storage Reservoir, including on Springbank Road, would dry and be susceptible to wind erosion. Potential contaminants picked up by the floodwaters (e.g., raw sewage) would likely remain in the sediment left behind, and may be picked up and carried by the wind as well.”
This excerpt is from section 5.3.5 of the “Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project Description” available here: http://www.ceaa-acee.gc.ca/050/documents/p80123/114316E.pdf