17 June 2014
Last week, a study of a proposed tunnel that would divert Elbow River flood waters from above the city to downstream on the Bow River concluded the cost would be $457-million. The reaction from both levels of government was less than encouraging. “Five hundred million dollars would build us a fair bit of LRT," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, "Five hundred million dollars would go a long way towards solving the congestion problems on Crowchild Trail.” Premier Dave Hancock, too, exuded caution. "You know, we have to look at projects in the context of the effect on everybody who will be affected by it," he opined.
The numbers suggest an easy decision. If all the projects proposed to tame the Elbow were built—the tunnel plus a dry dam at McLean Creek and an off-stream reservoir at Springbank Road—the cost would come to $837-million. The flood cost $6-billion, not including the victims' personal expenses and heartache. In other words, the three projects would pay out over seven times if they prevented just one 2013 flood. They would, of course, protect us from many floods.
Nonetheless, here we are only a year later and already our governments are hedging. Major projects to prevent Elbow flooding have been proposed before and none survived the test of time. The cynics have history on their side.
Posted by Bill Longstaff at 10:46 am