Province reaches deal on Springbank off-stream reservoir

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — The Government of Alberta says it has reached a deal with one of the ranching families that had been fighting the Springbank flood diversion dam.

A total of 465 acres have been bought from the Robinson family, and a historic building in the path of the dam will be relocated.

It removes one major roadblock for the project and means the province has acquired about 20 per cent of the needed land, but it is still behind schedule because of federal regulations.

“The regulatory process has been much more lengthy than we expected,” said Transportation Minister Brian Mason. “And particularly now with the consultation — the level and style of consultation that the Supreme Court has required — means we can no longer predict or set some sort of specific timeline for the regulatory process. It is open-ended, and it is outside of our control.”

READ MORE: Mayor irritated with Rocky View delay on flood mitigation

In a statement, the Robinson family writes they took this step for several reasons, including that the agreement protects and preserves heritage ranch lands and buildings, and the burden of living under the cloud of the proposed project has been heavy.

They add governments must make tough decisions, and they respect the steps taken to resolve the complicated issue.

Mason said the government is still crafting a response to Rocky View County after its council voted to oppose the project and asked the province to consider a dam at Mclean Creek, but stresses the Springbank dam is the only viable option.

“The downtown of Calgary is the nerve centre of the Alberta economy. It’s the financial and business centre of our economy.”

Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark was also in attendance at the announcement inside the McDougall Centre, and he echoed the sentiments shared by the Minister.

“140 years ago should we have put the city somewhere else? Maybe. But this is where we put the city of Calgary, and so the only viable option is to build the Springbank off-stream reservoir.”

Clark added that hopefully this deal would quiet some opposition and spur other landowners in Rocky View to allow the purchases.

The province also still needs to hire a contractor willing to build the reservoir, which remains years away from completion.

It’s estimated that another flood event like the one that hit Calgary in 2013 would cause $700 million in damages, with billions more at risk from backflow flooding.

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