Protect Downtown Calgary. Build the Glenmore Diversion Tunnel Now.
Posted on October 07, 2014 by Greg Clark
Sign our petition below and tell the PC government that we can't afford more delays on flood protection
Two weeks ago Jim Prentice announced that the PC Government was proceeding with creating a dry dam in Springbank based on a “room for the river” idea from the Netherlands. This announcement was welcome news for flood weary residents along the Elbow River in Calgary, whose homes and lives were devastated in 2013 and to the businesses in downtown Calgary, who were impacted financially by the flood.
This all sounds good, except for two major problems.
No Feasibility Study for the Springbank Dry Reservoir
First, as Mayor Nenshi stated here, there appears to be no specific scientific or engineering study to support the feasibility of this idea. In fact, the Alberta Government website sets out the terms of reference for an environmental impact assessment. All the work that had been done up until the Premier’s surprise announcement was on a permanent wet reservoir for the Springbank area (which could be used to help support Agriculture in times of drought). So how does the government know that this project will provide will provide adequate flood protection? Mayor Nenshi asked for that information and, as far as we know, the Province hasn’t provided it to him and they certainly haven’t provided it to Albertans.
No Certainty on Springbank Project Timeline
Second, even if Springbank could provide enough flood mitigation to protect Downtown Calgary, there is no guarantee it will be built in the three-year timeframe announced by Jim Prentice (if at all). Given the PC government’s track record on building something simple like schools, I’m not optimistic they’re able to construct a complex dry dam anywhere close to on time. Add to that the complexity of expropriating private land and it could be four, five or more years before Springbank is operational.
The Glenmore Diversion Tunnel is Shovel Ready Today
There is, however, a project we know a lot about which is ‘shovel ready’ and requires no expropriation of private land. The City of Calgary completed an in-depth feasibility study about building a bypass tunnel that would take water from the Glenmore Reservoir to the Bow River under Heritage Drive. The study determined that a tunnel built to mitigate against a 1:100 year flood would cost approximately $460 million and a tunnel built to mitigate against a 1:200 year flood would cost just under $500 million.
The Tunnel is a Positive Return on Investment
The city study cost/benefit analysis showed a positive return on investment from the tunnel of $850 million. And that’s only for publicly-owned infrastructure. Add to this the billions in losses if downtown Calgary was flooded again, the costs to small businesses and homeowners, and the devastating psychological impact on people whose homes would be lost again. I believe the decision is clear.
So the questions that we must ask are:
Can we afford to wait to several more years and risk another multi-billion dollar flood disaster to find out if the Springbank “room for the river” concept is even feasible?
What impact will the uncertainty of not having flood protection in place have on the Calgary’s economy now that we’ve experienced multiple major floods in recent years?
We Can Do Better For Alberta.
The cost of delaying action at the expense of our homes and our economy is too high to ignore. As MLA for Calgary Elbow, I will:
Fight to ensure that our government builds the Glenmore Diversion Tunnel so that businesses do not have to wait years to have confidence Downtown Calgary is protected against the next major flood and flood affected communities do not have to relive the experience of having their homes destroyed.
Champion the feasibility study and consultation necessary to advance the Springbank dry dam.
Calgary can’t afford to wait while the PC Government drags its feet. Sign the petition to build the tunnel today!
I call on the Provincial Government to build the Glenmore Diversion Tunnel today based on the in-depth study completed by the City of Calgary that showed the tunnel can provide 1:200 year flood protection for Downtown Calgary and flood affected communities with a positive return on investment for the city.
Candidate for MLA in Calgary Elbow By-Election - Alberta Party Leader