By Trevor Busch
With Alberta’s flood mitigation projects now under review by the UCP, speculation has arisen about what this could mean locally for the future of the $47 million Horsefly Spillway project.
While not ruling out the project’s cancellation, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter said the Horsefly Spillway is being reviewed as part of a larger examination of the province’s finances, and hard decisions may have to be made.
“Not just that project, but every project, every expense line is being looked at. It doesn’t mean that’s not going to happen, it doesn’t mean that it is going to happen. It just means that we’re actually reviewing everything right now. It’s just too early to tell and to say whether it’s going to be working or not, whether it’s going to go forward or not.”
The Horsefly Spillway project is designed to direct excess drainage water to the Oldman River to protect multiple southern Alberta communities across the region.
The provincial portion of the project — $7.4 million — was already committed by the previous NDP government, and no timeline has been established for the review by the UCP.
“Getting excited about whether it’s going to be going forward or not, we’re asking please be patient, we’re trying to get our heads around the extent of the problem we’re dealing with,” said Hunter, who also serves as associate minister of Red Tape Reduction. “This is all part of the process — everyone wants to be able to get the answers — but we’re still trying to collect those answers.”
The total bill for the federal-provincial-municipal cost-shared project has been pegged at $47 million. Seventy-three per cent of the project cost was expected to be funded federally and provincially, while locally the Municipal District of Taber’s contribution — in conjunction with contributions from other participating municipalities — is estimated at $1,908,200.
Hunter expects answers on the project’s future will be determined during provincial budget deliberations in October.
“The budget should be able to shine light on capital projects, and you’ll have also operating expense clarity for the budget as well. You’ll be able to get that in October when we present our budget.”