People worried about the Red Deer River swallowing the Town of Sundre have come one step closer to finding a permanent solution.
On Tuesday, Save Our Sundre committee, struck by the Sundre Chamber of Commerce, announced that the federal government will provide $84,400 for a study needed to determine whether the river can be moved back to the channel where it had run prior to extreme flooding in the late spring of 2005.
The money will come out of the Community Adjustment Fund, which is part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s two-year economic stimulus package, said SOS chair Myron Thompson, former MP for the Wild Rose constituency.
While the river has already been “studied to death,” including an engineer’s report performed earlier this year, the previous work did not cover all the necessary bases, said Thompson.
The new study, which the town wants completed by the end of this year, will include a detailed description of the area that would be affected, a fish habitat study, an environmental review of the design and construction methods and creation of a process for mitigation and compensation.
The town is now in the process of hiring an engineer to perform the new study, he said.
Committee members hope the study can be performed in time for the town to get the necessary approvals in time to start excavating before the 2010 flooding season.
Sundre dodged a bullet this year, because the river did not rise nearly as much as it has in past years due to cold, dry weather in spring, said Thompson.
While there was no flooding, the river continues to eat at its banks, threatening homes, businesses and parks, he said.
Thompson vowed to continue pushing for help with a long-term fix for the town’s problems with the river, even though SOS members and town officials have been promised that the province is making it a top priority.
The group will meet with Premier Ed Stelmach on Sept. 21 to talk about their hopes and plans for the river.