October 26, 2015 by CRC Action Group in Calgary River Communities, News

Dear Members,


Through your irrepressible determination and support, we are please to speak to the tremendous announcement made earlier today.


Alberta moves to protect Calgary, neighbouring communities from severe flooding


Some 14 months ago, and after extensive study and analysis, then Premier Jim Prentice made an announcement of fundamental importance to Calgary and, by extension, Alberta. He announced that the Province was committed to the development of the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project, as the first priority, major infrastructure project on the Elbow River, and to further study of viable water storage facilities on the Bow River, to keep Calgarians and Alberta’s economy safe from the next inevitable devastating flood.


Our post at that time is HERE.


But as fall turned to winter and then to spring, despite this verbal commitment regarding Springbank, it became increasingly apparent that there was a lack of imperative to move forward in a meaningful way. Environmental assessments and engineering work were commenced, but things slowed down. Throughout this time, we were advised that the Province’s discussions with key interest groups, like the few affected landholders, were progressing, so we continued our advocacy in the quiet manner we considered supportive to those efforts.


And then the spring Provincial election was called and a new Government assumed the helm.


Premier Notley has stated from day one that flood mitigation for Calgary is an important issue.  Of course, the new government wished to understand the flood vulnerabilities in southern Alberta, the previous Government’s responses to the 2013 flood and the solutions available to protect the public and the economy of Alberta to a similar, or worse, event than 2013 – before making any decisions. Through this work, and their own independent assessments, they’ve come to the same conclusion that Springbank is indeed the optimal first mitigation project in terms of time to construct, relatively small environmental impact, cost/benefit and all key metrics. And so it is, for all the very many reasons that have been identified through numerous public studies and that we have posted for the past 18 months. They’ve made the right decision.


Make no mistake. What our new Government has re-committed to is nothing short of “nation-building” in scope. It is to help resolve a profound risk that has been known for decades, and politically ignored for just as long. For that, Calgarians and Albertans should be justifiably proud of this clear commitment by the New Democrats to protect this City and Province. At a time of such fiscal stress, they understand what rests on the basic physical security of this place in which we live and work, and that it’s a fundamental priority. It is existential in nature. They get it and we are deeply appreciative of this clear and unequivocal leadership.


We have said since May that we believe Springbank can be fully operational well before the next Provincial election. We have been assured that there will be no foot-dragging going forward and that construction will begin in the coming few months following the completion of environmental and engineering work. CRCAG will demand that this project does not again stall and will not settle for soft assurances that things are “progressing”. We expect that any land that must be expropriated to complete this project, will be timely expropriated. We will not allow this process to again be distracted by a few stakeholders. We expect transparency and engagement. We will be very vocal if the path strays. We have this Government’s assurance it will not. It understands that talk is cheap, but that real leadership requires action. We believe them.


And we know all too well that Elbow River mitigation is half the story. We understand the tremendous challenges posed by the Bow River watershed. As Mayor Nenshi stated today, there is still a lot of work to be done on the Bow.  While the Province and TransAlta have made strides to optimize existing infrastructure operations through agreement, additional flood storage simply has to be developed, as literally three more facilities with the attenuation capacity of the Ghost Reservoir would be required to keep water from reaching 2013 levels in Calgary again. We are the Calgary River Communities Action Group, meaning all communities in Calgary including the business centre of western Canada, and much work lies ahead. We are tremendously encouraged by the Government’s clear recognition of this and its plans to address these challenges in a comprehensive fashion. We very much look forward to continuing to provide our voice at the table.


In the coming days we will announce the date of our AGM, which will now be a forum to provide the very latest information to our Members and the public. We have invited the Premier or a key Minister to speak to these initiatives, and our Mayor Nenshi to provide his views. We will outline our action plan for the coming year, seek your active and ongoing participation and we’ll prevail again upon your tremendous generosity to help fund the work ahead. We urge you to attend, to celebrate what we’ve accomplished to date, outline what more must be done, and together, press ahead.


All the very best,


Your CRCAG Team.


Recommendations on the Elbow River major infrastructure decisions