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