Exactly why Rocky View County has withdrawn its objection to the Springbank off-stream Reservoir (SR1) will likely become clearer in the near future.
After an in-camera session on May 12, the county council reversed its objection to the flood mitigation project designed to protect Calgary from flooding. The county will not be voicing any further opposition while the project goes through both federal and provincial regulatory processes.
Only Reeve Greg Boehlke, Div. 2 councillor Kim McKylor, and Div. 5 councillor Jerry Gautreau stood opposed.
Why RVC backed off will become clearer in the future say both Reeve Boehlke and Div. 1 councillor Mark Kamachi, who represents Bragg Creek-Jumping Pound residents.
"I've always public said I don't want SR1, but it just came to a point where I put my business cap on and said there are benefits in this for the community. There's a benefit for not only Bragg Creek but all of Rocky View," he said
"I want to be able to talk about that publicly. therein people will get a better understanding of why I changed my vote."
He says it became clear the project is inevitable unless stopped by the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) says otherwise.
Reeve Boehkle, who voted against the decision, also said he can't speak to the details on the discussions but that the majority favoured dropping the opposition.
"Council made a decision that it may be the way to go. I guess time will tell."
Boehlke says RVC will continue to closely follow the regulatory approval process and has the ability to ask questions along its course.
"We represent the people of Rocky View County, and part of our job is to ensure things and projects within our county are done right and done to best of ability."
With only 25 per cent of the land secured for the project he says even with regulatory approval, SR1 is a long way from being built.
A second motion hinting there is a possibility of additional funding from the province to compensate the county for loss of tax revenue from the land associated with the project.
Council supported a motion to earmark any such revenue to recreational/cultural amenities in the Springbank area.
While voting against removing its objection SR1, Div. 1 councillor McKylor, who represents the Springbank area, says it's her responsibility to support the will of the council.
In a statement following the decision, she assured Springbank area residents the NRCB will be thorough in its deliberations.
"To Springbank residents, the NRCB has a full suite of data and submissions on the project, and anything that is likely to delay, kill, or change SR-1 is already there for them to consider," she stated. "The county's opinions are now largely irrelevant. If the NRCB finds something amiss, they will move to correct it."
Despite RVC's change of heart, the Springbank Community Association vows to continue their fight against the project, using the hashtag "notforsale."
It questions the lack of transparency surrounding many SR1 discussions and called the county's decision surprising.
"It is rather disappointing for our own county to enable more secrecy around the cost of this project by not disclosing the compensation received for this change of heart," it states in response to the decision.
The association has remained proactive in its opposition. This spring, it submitted a letter to Auditor General requesting a review of the project and prepared a detailed submission to regulators.
In December 2018, the county council voted to oppose the project unless other flood mitigation options were subjected to a full analysis.
Last month the Tsuu'tina Nation withdrew its objection to SR1. It became clearer shortly afterward when the province committed $32 million to the Nation for flood mitigation, restoration, and prevention.
Last week, the Alberta Government reconfirmed its commitment to SR1 and announced a further $196.3 million in funding to continue work on over the next three years.
Combined with $168.5 million in federal funds announced last spring and the funds already spent to date, this commitment closes the gap needed to fully fund the project.
The province's latest estimate places the total cost of SR1 at $432 million.
To proceed, SR1 requires approval from the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC), Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), and the Natural Resource Conservation Board (NRCB).
If approved, SR1 will take two years to build to one-in-100-year capacity, and three years to build to full capacity to offset events like the 2013 flood.