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Tsuut’ina Nation withdraws opposition to Springbank Offstream Reservoir

The Tsuut’ina Nation has withdrawn their opposition to the Springbank Offstream Reservoir, citing a new approach to the project.

A letter was sent to the Natural Resources Conservation Board on April 1 outlining the withdrawal of its objections and that the Tsuut’ina would no longer participate in the regulatory process.

The Springbank Offstream Reservoir, or SR1, was maligned by the First Nation on Calgary’s southwest border, as former Tsuut’ina Chief Lee Crowchild called it an untested proposal. There were concerns about the impact on First Nation’s lands, including the area around Redwood Meadows. There were also concerns about the impact the $432 million project would have on the area’s groundwater.

The SR1, when complete, will work in tandem with the Glenmore Reservoir. It will potentially divert 600 cubic metres per second from the Elbow River into the offstream reservoir. Anything above that reservoir’s capacity would then be diverted and flowed into the Glenmore Reservoir.

Gordon Olsen, spokesperson for the Tsuut’ina, said Chief Roy Whitney, took a different approach to the information around the project than his predecessor, Chief Lee Crowchild.

Whitney defeated Crowchild in a Tsuut’ina election in November of 2019.

Olsen said Whitney examined the studies that had been done and considered what Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi had said about supporting the project.

“And then on the other hand, a willingness on the part of Minister McIver, who has had a very good relationship with Tsuut’ina over the years, to listen to concerns and try and find a solution,” Olsen said.

Olsen said as part of the agreement, further flood mitigation to protect the residences around Redwood Meadows. It also appears the groundwater issues no longer remain.

“That concern seems to have been corrected; that concern has been withdrawn,” Olsen said.

‘This is fantastic news for Calgary.’

In a prepared statement, Chief Whitney said this was an example of how different governments can work together.

“Our primary concern has always been the protection of our people and our land. We have reached an agreement that provides that protection and allows us to mitigate impacts from flooding in the future,” Chief Whitney said.  

Mayor Nenshi tweeted his pleasure that this hurdle had been overcome.

“This is fantastic news for Calgary,” Nenshi tweeted.

“In the Nation’s withdrawal of opposition, we get one step closer to the safety and security that the Springbank Reservoir will provide.”

Transportation Minister, Ric McIver said they committed to working with the Tsuut’ina Nation on the SR1 project.

“This marks a major milestone in the regulatory review of the Springbank Reservoir and we are pleased to continue to work with our First Nations partners,” he said.

Olsen said that Chief Whitney consulted with Tsuut’ina Nation members and the band council before proceeding with their change in position.