Opinion: Election promises and the Springbank dry dam project

It must be election time — here come more promises from politicians about flood protection in the Calgary area.

It’s getting all too predictable. The election campaign is in full swing in Alberta (and Canada for that matter), and all layers of government start making infrastructure promises.

Just like the spring thaw, annual Calgary Stampede or Oilers’ first overall draft pick, here they come: it’s time to pump up the crowd for the Springbank Dry Dam project. Gather the ministers and government posse, prepare the all-too-predictable talking points, nod knowingly at those who stand to line their pockets off of this project, prop up a few experts paid to agree, invite the media and promise with the utmost conviction from behind that big-government podium that the Springbank dry dam will be built.

Never mind that many experts now estimate this project is actually closing in on the $1 billion price tag, and may not be the solution we need.

The government trots out this project before every provincial election since the flood of 2013. They know it strikes an emotional chord. Show some of those devastating flood pictures, remind us all of the heartbreaking stories and costs associated with that flood, and vow that it will never again happen on their watch.

Flood mitigation is needed, but the politics have gotten in the way of solutions. Grandstanding has clouded clear thinking on the most vital piece of infrastructure our region could build in decades.

Let’s rewind to the official and initial (there have been several) announcement that a Springbank dry dam would be built. It was Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. Then-premier Jim Prentice announced Alberta would build a dry dam in Springbank to protect Calgary from future flooding. Not coincidentally, there was a byelection coming a month later, on Oct. 27, in Calgary-Elbow and this announcement certainly gave the PC candidate a huge advantage at the doors. Imagine the door knocking: “Our government has committed to building a dry dam in Springbank to protect you from future flooding.”

In the fall of 2014, Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a news release saying that the people of Calgary were blindsided by this announcement. It was not a comprehensive plan, they said. The Springbank solution is incomplete and may not be sufficient, they countered. It was because this flood was so devastating that Nenshi was adamant: Calgarians deserved better. There were better options on the table and political expediency should …read more

Source:: Calgaryherald.com

      

Varcoe: Leaders pitch pipeline fixes for Alberta, from ‘war room’ to beetle patrols

Who should voters blame for the failure to get pipelines built to move oil out of Alberta?

The provincial election campaign was dominated by the province’s pipeline quandary on Friday, with more verbal punches thrown between the political rivals than at an MMA event.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney and the NDP’s Rachel Notley did a pretty good job Friday of blaming each other for not getting energy infrastructure completed during their stints in federal and provincial politics.

“Rachel Notley and the NDP sold Alberta out to Justin Trudeau and all we got in return is no pipelines, a carbon tax and a jobs crisis,” Kenney said Friday, standing outside the Trans Mountain pipeline terminal in Edmonton.

In Calgary, the NDP leader had her own line of attack.

“Mr. Kenney spends a lot of time pointing fingers on pipelines, but I would say he should probably turn that finger around and point it right at himself,” Notley said of the former federal minister in the Harper government.

“He sat in cabinet for 10 years and he did nothing.”

It all makes for grand political theatre.

Meanwhile, the Trans Mountain expansion, Enbridge’s Line 3 development and the Keystone XL pipeline are all stuck in the mud.

One of the projects is needed quickly to unclog a congested oil-transportation system in western Canada.

All three have been delayed by regulatory rulings and legal decisions in Canada and the United States.

Not one will be operational within the next 12 months.

While Notley was blasting the UCP leader and talking about Calgary flood mitigation, Kenney devoted his announcement to laying out a “fight back” strategy that would see him go after foreign funding of anti-oilsands groups.

Parts of his 12-point plan have been mentioned before, although there were some new details.

If elected, the UCP would initially set aside $2.5 million and launch a public inquiry into the foreign sources of funding that have streamed into environmental groups dedicated to thwarting the oilsands sector.

Alberta would also establish a $10-million litigation fund to back pro-development First Nations if they head to court over major energy developments.

This would be useful for proponents hoping to build the Eagle Spirit Energy pipeline proposal, allowing them to battle the Trudeau government’s oil tanker moratorium off B.C.’s northern coast.

Many of the promises are red meat for an angry province, such as the pledge to set up a war room to fight on social media with anti-oilsands activists and respond to “lies …read more

Source:: Calgaryherald.com