Proposed 'Glenbow East' Bow River flood mitigation option met with skepticism
Plan would see destruction of much of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park pathways
Jan Eirsman gets emotional when she talks about the implications of the proposed Glenbow East option for Bow basin water management.
For the lifelong Cochrane resident, it's personal.
"Our house is underwater," she says.
At least, it could be, if the province chooses Glenbow East over the other two options — all aimed at reducing future flood damage and improving drought storage on the Bow River.
The two other scenarios up for discussion are the Morley option, which would see the construction of a dam and a new reservoir, or the Ghost Dam option, which would see the existing dam decommissioned and a new one built a few kilometres downstream.
On Monday, dozens of Calgarians and residents of Cochrane and surrounding areas attended the first of three open houses hosted by the province to provide information about the three proposed options, and collect feedback.
Eirsman says she also worries about how the Glenbow East option could impact historic sites.
"We have Owl Bay which has been used by Indigenous peoples for generations — and it could be disturbed," she said.
"We have land that has been donated on the south side … it was land that was to be held in stewardship and it would now be flooded."
Stewardship is something Liz Breaky, former Rocky View councillor and a board member for the Elbow River Watershed partnership, also worries about.
Especially since Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park is just 10 years old.
"It's such a brand new park," she said. "And the whole point of it was to preserve native prairie and the history. It seems a little precipitous to all of a sudden say, 'oh we don't need the park anymore we'll just flood part of it.'"
That's certainly not lost on Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation (GRPF) executive director, Sarah Parker, either.
"It would also impact some of our everyday trails in our park. And by impact I mean the water would be permanently on top of some of our trails," she said. "So all of that means less conservation land for wildlife and less recreational opportunities for Albertans."
Parker says GRPF doesn't have a preferred choice between the Morley and Ghost Dam options.
Conceptual assessments are currently underway for all three proposed designs.
The assessment will identify both positive and negative potential engineering, environments, social, economic, cultural and traditional land use factors, and estimate the associated costs.
That work is expected to be done by Spring 2020.
The province says officials will use that, in combination with feedback gathered at the open houses and online, to make a decision.
The entire process for implementing a new reservoir project along the Bow River will take a minimum for 12 years to complete.