More delays: Federal regulator outlines EIA deficiencies

November 22, 2017 by CRC Action Group in News

Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency outlines deficiencies in Environmental Impact Statement, additional information requested


One of the risks to the Springbank Project never being built is that delays in the environmental regulatory process will slowly kill the project over time. This week, we received word of one such delay.


In a letter addressed to Alberta Transportation (the Springbank Project proponent), the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) outlined 24 areas where the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), submitted by Alberta Transportation to CEAA just last month, is deficient in conforming to the CEAA’s requirements. 



While we did anticipate, as a normal part of the review process, that both the CEAA and Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) would likely seek clarifications and ask questions about the 3200+ page EIS, the release of the EIS was already delayed by more than five months in an effort to reduce the risk of further lingering study.


So this is disappointing, and we urge Alberta Transportation to work as quickly as possible to address the CEAA’s concerns.



The Springbank Project will protect lives, property and Alberta’s economy.


This is not a typical project reviewed through the environmental regulatory process, where the proponent’s principal motivation is to create economic benefit; the Springbank Project’s proponent is the Alberta government, meaning it’s all of us Albertans.


The project will benefit all Albertans, whether it be from avoiding the direct safety risks and personal impacts of flooding downstream (in Calgary, the Siksika Nation, Medicine Hat and other communities) or from protecting Alberta’s economy from the consequential disastrous effects of such inevitable flooding. Surely the overarching goal of this critical public infrastructure project will reign dominant at some point in this process.


The solution to these regulatory frustrations is NOT the abandonment of the Springbank Project, as its relatively few opponents have already suggested.


It’s clear that all three levels of government have made tremendous investments, both in effort and in real costs, to advance the study, analysis and regulatory processes of this project.


All efforts have led to this point: the fact-based knowledge that the Springbank Project is the best, first choice at every turn.


To shift to any alternative project would lose that investment, likely add at least four years to the process, and ultimately result in an inferior outcome (if it ever saw the light of day).


In our view, all the challenges and frustrations this project has faced, and many more, would be seen with any other project. All other possible projects face heightened environmental impact concerns, many more stakeholders in opposition, more cost, and some deeply concerning technical construction impacts. 


The team at CRCAG is reviewing the CEAA letter and is in contact with all levels of government.


We will keep the pressure on and pass along information as we get it. 


If you are concerned by this development (and we hope you are), then please contact your MP, MLA and municipal government representatives to let them know. Tell them why this important project matters to you and all Albertans.



Lastly, here is Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason’s statement that was provided to us yesterday:


Alberta Transportation has received feedback from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) about its Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) submission for the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir (SR1). Alberta Transportation takes this feedback very seriously.  We are aware of how important the SR1 project is to protecting Calgary and other downstream communities from the inevitable damage of another flood along the Elbow River.


In its preliminary evaluation of the EIA, CEAA has requested more detail in a number of areas, including groundwater impacts during construction and operation of SR1, evaluation of hydrological and atmospheric concerns and First Nations feedback on a number of environmental aspects.


Based on the feedback from CEAA it is clear that Alberta Transportation has more work to do on assessing the environmental impacts of the SR1 project. We are working diligently to rectify the deficiencies that CEAA has identified. This is part of the due process of the federal regulator and we are taking immediate action to ensure our next submission to CEAA is complete.


Alberta Transportation and its engineering consultant are currently reviewing CEAA’s list of questions about the project and evaluating the scope of work that will be required to respond to them fully. We are also evaluating the timeline required to resolve CEAA’s questions. We will notify all stakeholders and the public when the updated EIA for SR1 has been submitted.


As always, onward,


Your CRCAG Board