Tsuut’ina Nation, which has long been against the flood mitigation plan for the Elbow River west of Calgary, has formally withdrawn its opposition to the Springbank Reservoir project.
Transportation Minister Ric McIver broke the news in a release Tuesday after the First Nation sent letters this month to the Natural Resources Conservation Board and the Impact Assessment Agency.
“The Tsuut’ina Nation is an important partner. We committed to meaningfully consult with impacted communities on the Springbank Reservoir and the withdrawal of the Nation’s objections demonstrates we are doing just that,” said McIver.
“This marks a major milestone in the regulatory review of the Springbank Reservoir.”
Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney said the primary concern has always been the protection of First Nation residents and land.
“We have reached an agreement that provides that protection and allows us to mitigate impacts from flooding in the future. The agreement reached is an example of how our governments can work together,” Whitney said.
Last summer, Alberta Transportation was asked to provide the federal regulator more information on how it would address Indigenous concerns. Further consultation is planned.
Tsuut’ina Nation wasn’t alone in its opposition to the project. Members of a group called Don’t Damn Springbank have been pushing for the reservoir to be built at McLean Creek instead so fewer residents would be impacted.
But Calgary Coun. Druh Farrell, whose downtown ward was hit hard by the 2013 flood, was pleased to hear Tsuut’ina Nation’s change of heart.
“I’m really pleased that Tsuut’ina has made the decision to withdraw its opposition to the Springbank Dam. We need that dam,” she said.
Construction is not slated to start until a federal environmental assessment and Indigenous consultations have been completed. The dry dam project will be part of a flood mitigation system along the Elbow River that includes the Glenmore Reservoir and berms at Redwood Meadows and Bragg Creek.
It is part of an overall provincial flood mitigation strategy following $6 billion in damage caused by widespread flooding in southern Alberta in June 2013.
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