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

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read