River diversion at a standstill

The plan to divert the Red Deer River in Sundre remains at a standstill with Alberta Environment asking for more information before work can begin.

The plan to divert the Red Deer River in Sundre remains at a standstill with Alberta Environment asking for more information before work can begin.

The Save Our Sundre Committee wants to dredge the river, cleaning garbage and silt from the old westside channel so water can flow freely. It would mean the erosion on the eastern bank would slow.

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

The proposal is supported in an engineer’s report, commissioned by the Town of Sundre. In the report, an engineer with Stantec Consulting of Red Deer suggests that moving the Red Deer River back to the former channel would protect the town from spring floods.

The Town of Sundre’s application to do the work on the river was returned in mid-June because Alberta Environment wanted more information.

Cara Van Marck, a spokesperson with Alberta Environment, said the department still needs an assessment on impacts to river hydraulics to the upstream and downstream landowners and to the aquatic environment, a stamp of approval by a professional engineer and a timeline for a long-term solution.

Van Marck said once Alberta Environment gets the information they need, it will be fast-tracked, with the application going through in as little as three weeks.

Retired MP Myron Thompson, a spokesman for Save Our Sundre, said the town has applied for funding through the province and federal government to pay for the reports Alberta Environment requires.

“A bureaucratic nightmare is what this is turning into,” Thompson said. “It’s a money issue — all of a sudden you need more money. (Alberta Environment seems) to forget we’re not a city of a million people where we can draw funds from to do this. We’re 2,500 and we don’t have that kind of money to get the kind of work done that they want done.”

Thompson said this year the river level has been low, which has saved the area from floods. However, the town suffered devastating floods during the heavy rains of June 2005.

“To me the common sense is out the window because of regulations and nightmarish requests and requirements in order to get a very simple common sense thing done that needs to be done to save this property from flooding,” Thompson said.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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