Sundre-area residents want Red Deer River diverted

Hundreds of people from Sundre and beyond marched through town on Sunday afternoon in support of efforts to divert the Red Deer River before it makes another charge up Main Street.

Holding the S.O.S sign is Wendy Willard of Calgary

SUNDRE — Hundreds of people from Sundre and beyond marched through town on Sunday afternoon in support of efforts to divert the Red Deer River before it makes another charge up Main Street.

Packing signs and spades, people rallied at the shores of the river and marched up the street to the hotel, chanting, “Get us a permit.”

There, they heard from retired MP Myron Thompson and other members of Save Our Sundre, a group organized earlier this year to lobby federal and provincial governments for permission to move the river back to an older channel before it chews its way through homes and businesses along its west banks.

Holding his shovel high, Calgary resident Louis Melanson, who owns a lot in Riverside RV Park, said his place will be among the first to go if the river floods this year.

“I want to make sure that something happens that we do fix the river, because we don’t want to lose our town,” said Melanson.

The Red Deer River has churned closer to homes and businesses every spring since 2005, when heavy flooding swamped parts of the town and dramatically changed the river’s course, said rancher Cy Newsham, whose family has lived along the river for the past 115 years.

He took part in studies on the river from 1972 until 1981, when the Dickson Dam was built, and is a member of the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance.

“It’s a fast-moving mountain stream that floods depending on weather conditions and it has a history of many different years that goes back to 1915, when it had a flood that tore out the bridges and broke the Great West Logging Company.”

It flooded again for four years straight in the 1950s and the town has been flooded several times since then, said Newsham.

There’s so much snow in the watershed right now, one heavy rainfall would make the 2005 flood look “like a squirt from a water pistol,” said Newsham.

A simple and fairly inexpensive solution has been on the table for years, said SOS member Paddy Munro. Promises have been made, but a long-term solution has not materialized, he said.

“We’ve had quite a battle here, trying to get things figured out and moving.”

Sundre’s biggest obstacle has been getting all the permits it needs from various levels of government, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada and various provincial departments, including environment, public lands and culture.

MLA Ty Lund has indicated his support for SOS’s plans and there are indications that the province will fast track the permitting process as much as possible, said Munro.

“The indications are that the provincial people and the federal people are going to step up to the plate. If they don’t, there’s going to be a picnic with Ed (Premier Stelmach) at the fountains in Edmonton,” he said.

Provided permits and money can be acquired, SOS hopes to build up and armour the riverbank right next to town this fall, he said.

“The SOS group just wants to see a properly engineered and constructed riverbank protection project. We want it done in a tight time frame at a competitive price. It’s not rocket science. It’s not too much to ask.”

He encouraged the group to pressure their elected officials, particularly Mountain View County, for help getting a project underway.

While the Sundre group is working on diverting the river to its older channel, Mountain View County is working now on stabilizing banks upstream. The stabilization project needs fewer permits because the work is being done at the edge of the river rather than in the water, said Reeve Al Kemmere.

The County has committed more than $600,000 for the bank stabilization project, said Kemmere.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer ‘champion’ helps hospital by sharing ongoing petition

It’s been about three years since many physicians at Red Deer Regional… Continue reading

‘Here is my home:’ Refugee whose fingers froze off finds hope in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — Razak Iyal still wakes up in the middle of the… Continue reading

Trudeau sees 2019 election as choice between positive Liberals, divisive Tories

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau says he’s confident he’ll win re-election next fall… Continue reading

Rural transit service rolled out

2A South Regional Transit will link Innisfail and Penhold with Red Deer

Some Red Deer waste collection schedules change due to holiday season

Tuesday collections will be moved for two weeks

Alberta’s Sundial starts shipping to AGLC this week

Sundial’s Rocky View facility has received the green light from Health Canada… Continue reading

Penny Marshall dead at 75, best known as TV’s Laverne and director of ‘Big,’ ‘A League of Their Own’

Bronx-born Penny Marshall, who found ’70s sitcom success on “Laverne and Shirley”… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Most Read