Local ranchers and members of the Tsuut T’ina nation gathered together for a “unity ride” Saturday to protest the proposed Sprinkbank dam.
The project has faced many hurdles, including lengthy environmental studies and pushback from residents who would be forced to sell their land.
Landowners and Indigenous leaders have joined forces in the hope that a unified voice that opposes the dam will be heard.
READ MORE: Alberta’s controversial Springbank dam to undergo federal review
Mary Ellen Robinson’s family has been in the Sprinkbank area since 1888 and said she’s seeing more support for options other than the Springbank dam.
“I think there are so many more people in favour of McLean than [Springbank],” said Robinson. “Events like this show that we need solidarity with everyone and every group.” Although communication between landowners and the Tsuut T’ina people has improved, talks with the provincial government have not succeeded to the same degree.
“We’re very disappointed in how much they’ve approached us or even given us any say,” Robinson added. “We are not finished with this battle.” The Indigenous community also feels that it has been left in the dark.
Chief Lee Crowchild from the Tsuut T’ina said the nation has a vested interest in protecting many historic Indigenous sites that would be affected by the Springbank dam project.
Crowchild said that while they have been consulted, talks have not been constructive.
“[The government] has been telling us what the solution is but they never asked us what we think the solution should be,” said Crowchild. “It’s more a point of them telling us what they thought was best for us.”
READ MORE: Springbank dry dam project still faces opposition from Alberta landowners
In an email statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Alberta Transportation said Springbank continues to be the focus of any flood mitigation.
“The Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir continues to be the best option to protect Calgary and other downstream communities from the risk posed by flooding along the Elbow River.”
The statement adds the government continues to listen to all communities including the Tsuut T’ina nation.
According to a Transportation Alberta report from 2016 , McLean creek has been officially ruled out.
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