Mountain View County has been given the green light by Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen to seek the necessary permits to build a berm on the Red Deer River to hold back flood waters.
While it is not a guarantee of funding for the expected multimillion-dollar project, Reeve Bruce Beattie sees it as a positive sign the province recognizes the flood peril south of Sundre.
“I look at that as a bit of an encouragement that if we get the engineering right that we may be able to do the work with Sundre,” said Beattie. “I’m pleased that there is a recognition that we need some mitigation.”
The province has already come through with significant cash related to flooding problems in the area.
Earlier this fall, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development approved spending up to $50,000 on engineering work and a cost benefit analysis for proposed flood mitigation measures, such as berms.
Another $50,000 was awarded for engineering work to figure out the best way to handle flooding problems at Water Valley, where a bridge has been washed out three times. Another $850,000 was approved to fix problems.
The money is expected to come out of $110 million for flood mitigation announced by Transportation Minister Ric McIver recently.
About $40 million will go towards fixing sites damaged by the June flood, including Cougar Creek in Canmore and Hwy 758 at Bragg Creek.
The remaining $70 million will be spent over three years on protecting high-priority sites susceptible to flood damage.
Those will be determined after an assessment that takes into account the importance of the local highway and terrain.
South of Sundre, the work required is likely a berm and possibly “scalping” or the removal of loose gravel from the river to allow water to flow down its natural channels more freely.
The latest engineering report will provide a better estimate of costs, but previously Mountain View County asked for up to $2.5 million to extend a berm system southwest of Sundre.
Among the concerns in Sundre is the bridge over the Red Deer River, which is a vital link for the community.
Sundre Mayor Terry Leslie said the town has met with provincial staff and are still working out the details on future measures.
“We are working closely with County of Mountain View council and staff on this project as it is so vital to everyone in the community,” he said in an email.
“We are glad to see the announcement … and action before the next flood season in June is expected by all residents affected.”