Notley, Kenney accuse each other of dithering on Calgary flood protection

Campaigning well underway

NDP Leader Rachel Notley pledged more flood protection for Calgary on Friday as she and United Conservative rival Jason Kenney accused each other of dithering on another project to help prevent a repeat of the 2013 deluge that heavily damaged parts of the region.

Notley said if re-elected on April 16, her government would invest $1 billion over 10 years on flood diversion along the Bow River upstream from the city. She said three potential projects are already being considered, including two new reservoirs and an extension to another.

That infrastructure would be in addition to the $432-million Springbank dry dam planned for west of Calgary, but the project has faced delays and opposition from some ranchers.

“We know it is the best, fastest, safest and most cost-effective option for Albertans,” Notley said of Springbank as she stood at a viewpoint overlooking the Bow River and downtown Calgary, much of which was submerged in the June 2013 flood.

She accused Kenney of being noncommittal on the Springbank project and suggested UCP candidates have been divided in their support.

“What is clear is that Jason Kenney is not prepared to do what it takes to protect the people in this city. He would turn back the clock on years of work and leave Calgary exposed.”

Kenney said his party supports the Springbank project and will try to speed it up. He pinned the delays on the NDP holding back documents from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

“The NDP’s announcement today is a transparent effort to divert attention from their failure to get Springbank built,” Kenney said.

“They don’t have one shovel in the ground. They are not one inch closer to flood mitigation infrastructure than when they came to office four years ago.”

Kenney spoke in Edmonton at the terminus of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries Alberta petroleum products to the B.C. Lower Mainland. The federal government bought the pipeline last year amid political delays in B.C. to an expansion of the line. A plan to triple its capacity to enable more oilsands exports remains in limbo.

Kenney reiterated the UCP’s intention to fight back against foreign-funded anti-oilsands campaigns that have stymied pipeline development.

The plan would include a war room staffed by mostly public servants to respond to critics in real time and a legal fund to support pro-development First Nations. It would also strip provincial funding from anti-oilsands groups and challenge the charitable status of foundations that funnel foreign money to oilsands critics.

Kenney also said there would be a public inquiry into foreign-funded anti-oilsands activity. It would have an initial budget of $2.5 million and the legal authority to compel witnesses.

“It is time that we have an Alberta government that moves from a passive, reactive and defence posture to a proactive and assertive strategic posture to fight back against the anti-Alberta special interests.”

In Calgary, Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said the defunct Energy East pipeline to New Brunswick should be restarted, a federal bill overhauling environmental reviews should be amended and the NDP’s plan to ship more oil by rail should be nixed.

And Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel said a government led by him would provide annual dental checkups for children 12 and under. He said he would also work with municipalities to add fluoride to their water.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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