The federal government has ordered an environmental review of a controversial flood control project west of Calgary.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced that a federal environmental assessment is required for the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir. Public comments are due by July 25.
Alberta Transportation submitted the Springbank project description to the agency May 6. A review is a standard practice for projects that could meet or exceed certain triggers within the legislation, said a news release from the provincial government.
A provincial environmental review is also underway.
“Our government understands the importance of this project to provide flood protection to Calgary and other communities downstream on the Elbow River,” provincial transportation minister Brian Mason said in the news release.
“We are committed to building the Springbank Reservoir as quickly as possible while meeting all of the project’s regulatory obligations.”
The announcement was a relief for the local opposition.
“We are happy that the federal government said, ‘whoa,’ ” said rancher Ryan Robinson, spokesperson for the local activist group Don’t Damn Springbank.
About 1,000 submissions went to the government requesting a federal review of the project, which would see a dry reservoir, berms and canal cover about 3,500 acres to hold back future flood waters.
The group has argued the project should be further upstream on provincial land in an area called McLean Creek.
“We are seeing amazing support from southern Alberta. The government is shifting financial and social cost from the inner city to ranchers, farmers and residents of Springbank,” he said.
Private land would be taken over for the project, but residents in the area have not been willing to negotiate. Farms, ranches, a Kiwanis campground and private homes could be affected.
“We have not agreed to a single thing,” Robinson said.
“The land is not for sale.”