Flooding fix debated

The Town of Sundre is still trying to determine the best way to protect the community against Red Deer River flooding after a recent engineering study provided a number of options.

The Town of Sundre is still trying to determine the best way to protect the community against Red Deer River flooding after a recent engineering study provided a number of options.

An $85,000 Stantec Consulting report presented to town council last month outlined four options carrying price tags of $900,000 to $2.75 million for tackling erosion and flooding problems.

A decision has yet to be made on what option the town will pursue and how it would go about paying for it.

Town chief administrative officer Nita Bartholow said the municipality is looking at a modified version of the priciest option, which would see about 600 metres of river bank protected with riprap.

The town will be working with local group Save Our Sundre committee, which was formed last year and staged a rally that drew hundreds to pressure the provincial and federal governments take action on the flooding problem.

“There are questions the group has raised and we’re just trying to find answers to them,” she said.

The committee has been after the province to divert the river, which continues to eat at the town’s banks, threatening homes, businesses and parks.

The committee wants to dredge the river, cleaning garbage and silt from the old westside channel so water can flow freely and erosion to the east bank would be slowed.

If something isn’t done soon, committee members fear the next big flood could threaten Riverside RV Park, Greenwood Park and town water and sewer lines.

Last fall, Sundre Mayor Roy Cummings took the community’s case to Premier Ed Stelmach, who expressed support for finding a solution although no money was committed.

It is expected to take another $50,000 for detailed design work on a river fix. A decision hasn’t been made on whether the province will be pursued to cover the cost.

“That is a work in progress as well,” she said. “We’re not sure where that is going to come from yet because we need to make a decision on what we want to do before we can go out and apply for grants and all that kind of stuff.”

Myron Thompson, a spokesman for the Save Our Sundre, was disappointed with the study, which the committee thought was going to provide a solution to the flooding problem and a plan that could be used to seek provincial permit approval to begin work.

“We didn’t get a design. We got some options,” he said. The committee was also disappointed there was no mention of dredging, which Thompson believes is necessary to shift the river back to its channel.

Thompson said those involved are trying to determine if the options presented provide enough detail to apply for permits. If not, an option will be chosen and more detailed work will have to happen.

In the meantime, those whose homes are at risk if there is another major flood are becoming increasingly impatient. “SOS is saying this has gone on far too long. It’s time to get some answers.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com