The Tsuut'ina Nation says it is steadfastly against the proposed Springbank dry dam flood mitigation project on its border and will not give its consent to the project, something the nation says is required for the project to proceed.
"Whenever the provincial government plans to undertake a major project near a First Nation, there is a legal obligation to assess the potential impacts on First Nation lands," said Tsuut'ina chief Lee Crowchild in a news release.
"It is with some frustration that I must report that Tsuut'ina has not been consulted on the dry dam. Further, given that the dam is likely to have direct negative impact on Tsuut'ina, especially to treaty protected water, it is our position that more than consultation is required. Our position is that Tsuut'ina must give consent for this project to proceed. Tsuut'ina does not give that consent."
Crowchild said consent from the nation is consistent with the NDP government's "stated commitment to adhere to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."
The Springbank dry dam would occupy 3,610 acres of land in Springbank and would see gates upstream of Calgary divert water during flooding into a canal that would lead to surrounding land.
The water would be channelled back into the Elbow River when the flood subsided.
It's a controversial project, with some area landowners banding together to oppose it and arguing another proposal that was rejected by the previous PC government and now the ruling NDPs is the better option.
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That plan, to build a permanent reservoir in the McLean Creek area, is now also supported by Tsuut'ina.
"It will protect more people, not just in Calgary but also Bragg Creek and Redwood Meadows, and have less negative impact on people and the environment," said Crowchild.
Legal action possible
He said the nation will hire experts to look more deeply at how the project would affect Tsuut'ina and explore legal options "to force more thorough federal and provincial environmental assessments."
The nation also released a statement of support from the Ermineskin Cree Nation north of Red Deer.
"Ermineskin has been carefully watching the Springbank dam situation and is disappointed that the NDP government seems to be recklessly disregarding its own commitments to respect and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," said the statement from Carol Wildcat, the director of Ermineskin industrial relations.
The government argues the dry dam in Springbank is less expensive and has less environmental impact than the McLean Creek option.