Minister of Environment and Climate Change Approves the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project
July 8, 2021 — Ottawa — Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting both the environment for future generations and communities from the negative effects of flooding events.
Following a thorough, science-based environmental assessment conducted by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the Agency), the Minister of Environment and Climate Change has agreed with the conclusions in the Agency's Environmental Assessment Report and decided the proposed Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects when mitigation measures are taken into account. The project is therefore allowed to proceed.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson issued a Decision Statement to this effect under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012) for the project.
The project is designed to mitigate the flooding of lands, including those around Calgary, Alberta, by diverting floodwater during extreme flood events from the Elbow River to a temporary reservoir constructed in adjacent agricultural land and wetlands. The floodwaters would be stored before returning to the Elbow River.
The Minister's Decision Statement sets out over 200 legally-binding conditions that Alberta Transportation, the proponent, must comply with throughout the life of the project. These conditions include measures to protect fish and fish habitat, migratory birds, human health, Indigenous peoples' use of land and resources, physical and cultural heritage and species at risk.
For example, to help protect fish and fish habitat, the proponent must finalize a fish and fish habitat offsetting plan prior to construction and in consultation with Indigenous groups. The proponent is also required to develop and maintain measures to control erosion and sedimentation, including installing and maintaining sediment fences and turbidity barriers to prevent bank erosion.
The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada will enforce the conditions listed in the Minister's Decision Statement before construction, during construction, and throughout the life of the project. Failure by the proponent, to comply with these conditions is a violation of federal law.
Canada is committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership, and to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The consultation undertaken during the environmental assessment of the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project has advanced the Government of Canada's relationship with 14 Indigenous groups with whom the Agency consulted throughout the project's review.
Going forward, the proponent can now proceed with obtaining any necessary authorizations and/or permits. This includes authorizations from Fisheries and Oceans Canada under the Fisheries Act and Transport Canada under the Canadian Navigable Waters Act.
"My decision to approve the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project was informed by a robust federal environmental assessment based on sound science and Indigenous knowledge. The citizens of Alberta know how devastating floods can be on their livelihoods and their families. I am confident the strong legally-binding conditions established for the project will safeguard the environment for years to come, and also ensure Albertans can be protected from future flooding events."
— The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
The project proponent, Alberta Transportation, is proposing the construction of an off-stream reservoir, which includes a diversion channel, dam structures and outlet structures approximately 15 kilometres west of Calgary, Alberta. The purpose of the project is to prevent and reduce flood damage to the City of Calgary and communities downstream of the project.
As part of the federal environmental assessment process, the Agency invited potentially affected Indigenous groups, municipal and provincial governments, and expert federal departments to participate in a technical advisory group. Members contributed local knowledge and expertise to the review and worked with the Agency to review information, address issues, review potential mitigation measures, and provide input on the project's monitoring and follow-up requirements.
The Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project is the first flood mitigation project involving an off-stream reservoir to complete a federal environmental assessment process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012).
A second flood mitigation project, the proposed Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels Project, located in Manitoba, is currently undergoing a federal review under CEAA 2012. The Agency will invite the public and Indigenous groups to comment on the draft Environmental Assessment Report for the project during a future public participation opportunity.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
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