The Federal Court of Canada has sided with a group of Springbank landowners who are fighting the province’s flood protection plan for Calgary.
The ruling could delay the project, which would consume 1,461 hectares of land at a cost of about $250 million.
In a flood year, the project would see water from the Elbow River diverted into a canal toward a reservoir on land currently owned by people like Lee Drewry.
He could see his land bought by the province to make way for the project, which would be located about 15 kilometres west of Calgary — south of the Trans-Canada Highway, east of Highway 22 and north of Highway 8.
Drewry said he’s pleased the federal judge has sided with the landowners.
They argued the federal environment minister must make the final decision on whether the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency reviews the project or if there should be an independent study.
“It’s another setback for what is a really misguided project,” he said.
The landowners argue another flood-mitigation option, which involves building a permanent reservoir in the McLean Creek area farther to the west, is a better choice.
That plan was rejected on the basis that it would be more expensive, harder to build and cause more damage to environmentally sensitive areas.
Mayor wants flood protection for Calgary
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he wants the Springbank project to get going because it’s needed to protect Calgary from another flood on the Elbow River.
“It’s always been clear that there would need to be something on the federal side here as well,” he said.
“I’m just hoping that the minister will understand that a lot of good work has been done already and proceed as quickly as possible.”
Alberta’s infrastructure minister, Brian Mason, said in a statement he is reviewing the court decision, but that he wants the project built as quickly as possible to protect people from floods.