After three years of tireless effort BRFM – on behalf of you – is gaining momentum in its fight against the ill-conceived barrier project. In late April, City Administration made the decision to halt the project for a minimum of two years, possibly longer. Although Administration is downplaying this set-back, it is a very important development for our community, and for all Calgarians. That decision was the result of a sustained, targeted, and rational campaign to expose the ineffectiveness of the project, the lack of authentic community engagement and the complete absence of transparency to all taxpayers regarding costs.
But our collective work is far from over! City Council launched this project, and it will take City Council to turn if off, once and for all! We are pressing that aim; meeting with Councillors, talking to the province, engaging the media and reaching out to you – our community.
The City is waiting until the Government of Alberta has completed studies on the potential for upstream mitigation. Yes, it’s important to understand what a dam, the most important element of flood mitigation, can do to reduce flood flow rates through our community (just as the Springbank Off-stream Reservoir and Glenmore dam improvements have been applied for the Elbow communities). But what is more important to understand is that the very groundwater study commissioned by The City itself has proven that a barrier will not stop widespread groundwater flooding in Bowness (http://www.bownessbarrier.ca/).
The City continues to try and justify the project by making the claim that barriers are needed to protect the community from ‘smaller, more numerous floods.’ But why? TransAlta has for years, since the 2013 flood and before power de-regulation, provided this protection by lowering the Ghost dam each spring, just as they will for years to come under the TransAlta Operating Agreement (https://www.alberta.ca/bow-river-basin-transalta-operations.aspx).
There was also some early inaccurate media coverage (which has since been addressed) and some misleading comments by Councillor Sutherland (which have been raised with media and his Council colleagues). We have all the evidence of community opposition that we need. One was signed by over 100 members of the community, none of whom have a barrier recommended for their property but will be groundwater flooded anyway. The second was a petition signed by over 80% of directly impacted property owners who do not support the project because they understand it will not prevent groundwater flood damage.
So, while the deferral has provided some time to push for real solutions, BRFM’s work is far from complete. We need to work with the Province. We need to hold the City to account, continue to tell our story to Council, and work with media in getting the facts straight. And, of course, we need your ongoing support. Together we can put and end to this for the benefit of Bowness and all Calgarians.
Please join the effort at https://www.bownessrfm.ca/join_us/.