Flood modelling to go ahead for berm near Sundre

Sundre-area representatives met with three provincial ministers on Monday to iron out any regulatory wrinkles for an anti-flooding berm.

Sundre-area representatives met with three provincial ministers on Monday to iron out any regulatory wrinkles for an anti-flooding berm.

The project was given a big boost earlier this year when the province announced $3.1 million in funding to build a barrier to hold back flood waters during big spring runoffs.

However, a snag emerged when Tourism, Parks and Recreation staff raised concerns about the proposed location for the four-km berm. At issue is that a portion of the berm would fall in an area protected under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.

Two ministers are needed to sign off on the project to allow it to go forward, municipal representatives were told.

Mountain View County Reeve Bruce Beattie said local officials met with Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister Richard Starke, Municipal Affairs Minister Greg Weadick and Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Robin Campbell to see whether concerns could be addressed and necessary permits lined up for the project expected to cost around $3.3 million.

The ministers promised to speak with staff about the issues and get back to the county and the Town of Sundre within a couple of weeks.

Giving municipalities some cause for optimism was the province’s encouragement to go ahead with flood modelling work necessary to design and place a berm correctly.

“I think certainly in telling us to go ahead and do the modelling that was an indication they felt they would likely provide those permits,” said Beattie.

One suggestion raised at the meeting was to put a 90-degree bend in the berm to avoid protected areas.

“But we don’t think that would work. It would change the whole aspect of the berm,” he said. “We would have to reconsider the whole project if that is the case.”

Beattie said this year’s most risky flood period has passed without any serious problems.

They want to be ready for next spring and hope to begin construction on the berm in the fall.

Tourism, Parks and Recreation spokesman Tim Chamberlin said the ministers are “committed to looking for a best solution to preserve lands and resolve the issue of future flooding.

“The issues raised by the provincial government are part of due diligence for a project of this scope and they don’t foresee anything that is insurmountable.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com