Whether or not the Springbank off-stream reservoir (SR1) will proceed has taken another step toward a conclusion.
The Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) panel is opening its public hearing on SR1 on Mar. 22, and has awarded advance funding to three organizations who may be impacted by the project to assist in preparing their presentations.
Its Dec. 10 pre-hearing conference decision report concluded there was sufficient information to proceed to a public hearing, established the parameters of the review, and determined eligible advance funding.
While the parameters provide latitude to discuss social, economic, and environmental effects of the project, it reminded presenters the presentations need to centre upon SR1, not other Elbow River basin flood control alternatives.
In particular, it recognized McLean Creek has received significant attention from stakeholders and the applicant.
"The board will entertain submissions on how the proponent’s consideration of alternatives is relevant to a public interest determination of SR1," it states in the decision report. "However, the board does not find merit in the expenditure of significant time and resources assessing projects that are not a reviewable project under the NRCBA."
It also gave a total of 10 organizations, municipalities, First Nations, and individuals full hearing participation rights, providing them the opportunity to present oral evidence, cross-examine hearing participants, and present a final argument. Other submissions will be received in writing. Written submissions must be received by Feb. 26, and Alberta Transportation will have the opportunity to respond to them until Mar. 12.
Among those receiving full hearing rights is the SR1 Concerned Landowners Group (SCLG), expected to provide an extensive presentation. It was awarded $149,780 in advance funding to assist in providing critical review and analysis of the project's Environmental Impact Assessment.
The Ermineskin Cree Nation and Blood Tribe/Kainai were also both awarded $25,920 in advance funding.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hearing will be held in a virtual format and live-streamed on YouTube for public viewing. Full details of the hearing will be announced at a later date.
The panel held a virtual pre-hearing conference on Dec. 2 and live-streamed it on YouTube.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mar. 22 hearing will be held in a virtual format and live-streamed on YouTube for public viewing. Full details of the hearing will be announced at a later date.
The Natural Resources Conservation Board is an independent, quasi-judicial board of the Government of Alberta, established by the Natural Resources Conservation Board Act. It is responsible for determining whether natural resource projects are in the public interest by considering the social, economic, and environmental effects of proposed projects.