The Calgary citizen group advocating for swift action on upstream flood mitigation work is encouraged by the United Conservative Party’s apparent backing of the Springbank dam project.
The party and its leader have recently come under fire for waffling on the issue, with Jason Kenney previously not committing to the offstream reservoir’s construction. A statement was issued earlier this week confirming the UCP’s support for the project moving forward.
“The United Conservative Party has always been clear that we want flood mitigation infrastructure built for the Elbow River as soon as possible,” their statement read, citing a failure on the part of the governing NDP to get it environmentally approved and conduct proper consultation with Indigenous peoples.
The project is currently under review by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
“We will consult with all interested First Nations,
including the Tsuut’ina, and consult with members of the general
public, municipalities, and affected land owners,” the UCP
“If SR1 receives the requisite approval and the necessary aboriginal consultation has been completed, a United Conservative government will expedite construction of this project without delay.”
Brenda Leeds Binder, co-president of the Calgary River Communities Action Group, said it’s good to see the UCP clarify their stance on the infrastructure project.
“I think it’s very encouraging. It’s the kind of commitment that we’d like to hear from all parties going into this election,” Leeds Binder said.
“For an infrastructure project that’s being built for public safety and for the benefit of the city of Calgary and protecting the downtown core, it doesn’t seem like something that should be an election issue. It should be something that is going to proceed regardless of which party is running this province.”
Meanwhile, there’s still division among UCP candidates on the best flood mitigation measure in the area west of Calgary.
Calgary-Elbow UCP candidate Doug Schweitzer has been a vocal supporter of the Springbank flood mitigation solution from the start. Banff-Kananaskis UCP candidate Miranda Rosin posted to her Facebook page March 14 that “since day one of my campaign, I’ve been a vocal opponent of the Springbank Dam.”
Leeds Binder said that she’s confident that whoever takes over the portfolio and gets up to speed on the background, risk of flooding in Calgary and what the alternatives are, they’ll get behind the SR1 project. She said it’s much like the Alberta NDP did after first campaigning against the Springbank project, only to back it once the evidence was compiled.
“It took them some time. It slowed things down by six months,” Leeds Binder said.
“That might not sound like much, but it can mean an entire flood season is missed where the city isn’t protected. Every day matters.”