Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'It's Devastating:' Alberta Landowners Face Loss of Properties to Prevent Flood

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'It's Devastating:' Alberta Landowners Face Loss of Properties to Prevent Flood

Article excerpt

Landowners facing battle over reservoir

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SPRINGBANK, Alta. - Mary Robinson is taking it personally.

Her family has been living on Moose Hill Ranch on the edge of the Elbow River since 1888 -- when Alberta was still the Northwest Territories and only four years after Calgary was incorporated as a town with a population of 506.

The rolling grasslands and hay fields of the ranch now feature a sprawling log home and an equestrian centre, where countless young people have saddled up for the first time and learned to ride.

It could all be underwater if the Alberta government goes ahead with a plan to build the off-stream Springbank reservoir.

"It's devastating. It really is, especially at our stage of life where you think you have your life planned and you've done all of this for years and generations," Robinson says.

"My kids are fifth generation here and it's devastating that you think all of this will be ripped from us. It's homes, families, heritage and businesses."

Moose Hill Ranch is a possible casualty after the fact of heavy flooding that hit southern Alberta three years ago.

As much as 350 millimetres of rain fell over two days across the eastern slopes of the Rockies and a snowpack that had yet to melt. There was nowhere for all the water to go and the resulting deluge wiped out roads and bridges and swamped streets, homes and vehicles across southern Alberta.

Five people were killed and the damage estimate ran into the billions, making it one of the costliest disasters in Canadian history. In Calgary, where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet, more than 70,000 people were forced to flee for higher ground. Thousands of homes and businesses were damaged.

After the disaster, the Alberta government came up with a bevy of mitigation measures to prevent similar damage in another flood.

The Springbank reservoir plan would see gates upstream of Calgary divert water during flooding from the Elbow into a canal that leads to surrounding land. The water would be channelled back into the Elbow when a flood subsided.

In the 2015 election, the NDP campaigned on an alternate plan for a dry dam at the confluence of McLean Creek and the Elbow River. …

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