By Cole Parkinson
Funding for the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway project continues to be a focus for the Municipal District of Taber.
The M.D. did receive some good news from Alberta Environment and Parks in March as they were informed of some grant money coming their way for the project.
“We received a notification on March 12 from Alberta Environment that we have got ($7,397,610) for phase three of the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway project. This is a first step in seeking funding,” said CAO Derrick Krizsan at the M.D.’s regular meeting on March 26.
“Thank you for your ongoing leadership in implementing flood mitigation projects for the Municipal District of Taber. Your dedication is appreciated as the Government of Alberta works to enhance or enable the protection of critical infrastructure from flooding and drought events and help ensure public safety,” stated the letter from Minister Shannon Phillips.
This was one of 15 projects in Alberta that received funding from the provincial government which is going to total over $43 million.
The estimated total cost of the Horsefly Regional Emergency Spillway project is $47.1 million, though they do have other applications for grants coming up.
The M.D. could receive grants from the federal government under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaption fund, which comes up in 2020, and it may amount to 40 per cent of the estimated cost of the overall project of $18,846,000.
“The big question is how much everyone is going to be responsible for the remaining (amount)?” asked Reeve Merrill Harris.
It is estimated there would still be roughly over $12 million left to fully fund the project, if all applicable grants are approved.
“In my opinion, it has to be based on economic and physical impact. Anyone below the main canal would be physical impact whereas anyone within the region, including Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, all have an economic impact,” said Coun. John Turcato. “Let’s say the canal breached, there would be a lot of damage here last spring. If Cavendish had not already announced to start building that plant, would they still do that if they lost half of the irrigated acres? Would that have even been possible? The economic impact is for everybody.”
One point brought up was the fact that both the City of Medicine Hat and the City of Lethbridge have not been a part of the meetings regarding the project.
With their absence, it was pointed out a major flood without the emergency spillway would impact both.
Coun. Turcato especially pointed to Medicine Hat as an area that would be directly impacted if a breach was made during flooding.
“They are physically and economically impacted. If you take the SMRID canal out, and all that water is going towards the city of Medicine Hat,” he explained.
Past events were pointed to as times where Medicine Hat had floods affect the city.
“In 2010 or 2012, the reservoirs were full and basically they had nowhere else to put it,” added Coun. Brian Brewin, who also touched on fully funding the project. “That’s the challenge now, but I think everybody recognizes it is important. What’s fair is going to be the question.”
A motion was passed to accept the letter as information.