CRCAG meets with Transportation Minister Brian Mason

December 4, 2017 by CRC Action Group in News

Highlights from meeting with Alberta Transportation


Last week, members of your CRCAG Team met with Minister Brian Mason, his Deputy Minister, and his Chief of Staff. We covered many topics, the highlights of which are:


    • While it was a virtual certainty that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency would wish to receive further information from the Transportation Ministry (as proponent of the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project), the number of questions and clarifications received from CEAA were more than anticipated. They expect that the Environmental Impact Statement will be reworked and completed in a form acceptable to CEAA, by the end of January 2018. Minister Mason assured us that they and Stantec are working diligently on this.


    • Minister Mason confirmed that the Transportation Ministry and the NDP Government are 100% committed to the full completion of the Springbank Project as quickly as possible. There is no uncertainty in their minds that this is the right upstream mitigation project for the Elbow River to protect Calgary, notwithstanding some opposition. This was reiterated by Minister Mason in the Alberta Legislature recently, in an exchange with MLA Greg Clark. Below is an excerpt from Hansard on the point, which was distributed by MLA Clark to his constituents on Tuesday:


Springbank Reservoir Flood Mitigation Project


Mr. Clark: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Study after study after study has shown that the Springbank off-stream reservoir is the cheapest, most effective, and most timely way to ensure that the downtown Calgary and river communities are protected from flooding like we saw in 2013. My constituents and everyone who cares about the economic engine of downtown Calgary were very concerned when the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency sent back a long list of questions about the Springbank environmental impact assessment. To the Minister of Transportation: given that your department has put a lot of resources into preparing that EIA, why are there still so many outstanding questions?


The Speaker: The hon. minister.


Mr. Mason: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you very much to the hon. member for the question. He’s been a solid advocate on behalf of the Springbank reservoir, which is something  that is strongly supported and continues to be strongly supported by  this government because it is the right answer to protect Calgary from future major flood events. We have not wavered. We are not wavering now. Now, having said that, there are a number of deficiencies in the EIA, as has been pointed out, but these kinds of requests for further information are normal and part of the normal process. We’re working very hard to supply the additional information.


The Speaker: Thank you, hon. minister. First supplemental.


Mr. Clark: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This spring will represent five years since the devastating southern Alberta floods, and every year that goes by brings more risk, so it’s incredibly frustrating to see that there may be yet another delay on this project. The timeline has already been extended, and I’m worried this latest setback will put the people and businesses in southern Alberta at risk for even longer. Again to the Minister of Transportation: what impact will this information request have on the project timeline, and what are you doing to ensure that your department will work quickly to answer the CEAA’s questions and keep the project on track?


The Speaker: The hon. minister.


Mr. Mason: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to assure the hon. member and the House that the department and I are working full out to make sure that these deficiencies are remedied as quickly as possible and as thoroughly as possible. We think that any delays will be measured in weeks and not months.


The Speaker: Second supplemental.


Mr. Clark: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last week it was revealed that the few remaining landowners opposed to this project are coming up with new and creative ways to try to block it. Most recently they’ve proposed a development in what appears to be an attempt to frustrate the province’s legitimate plans to acquire the land. Again to the minister: will this tactic have an impact on the project costs or timeline, and can you reassure the countless thousands of people who would benefit from this project – including my constituents, everyone who lives or works in downtown Calgary, the people downstream of the city, including those in Siksika, Medicine Hat, and rural Alberta – that you remain committed to the Springbank off-stream reservoir?


Mr. Mason: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure unequivocally that we remain committed to the Springbank off-stream reservoir as a solution to the protection of Calgary from future flood events. I want to assure him that we are doing everything possible. This particular proposed development will not change the value of the land, and we don’t consider it a serious proposition. It’s an attempt to drive up the cost of the land, and we’re making sure that we do everything possible to make sure that does not happen.


    • In ongoing conversations with key Calgary stakeholders (including the City government, Calgary Economic Development, the Zoo, Calgary Chamber of Commerce and various major businesses), the Provincial Government is finding clear support for seeing the Springbank Project through to completion, and is taking all necessary next steps to advance mitigation efforts on the Bow River, per the recommendations set forth in the recently released Bow River Working Group Report. The Province intends to continue its work with these key stakeholders to achieve the outcomes necessary to protect Calgary from further flooding.


In the months ahead, we intend to stay in touch with the Transportation Minister and many others in the provincial and municipal governments that we speak with.




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