Meeting #2 Summary - Technical Advisory Group for the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project

Meeting information:

Date: May 3, 2018
Host: Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency)
Location: Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta
Participants:
Alberta Environment and Parks
Alberta Transportation (the Proponent)
City of Calgary
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Ermineskin Cree Nation,
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Health Canada
Infrastructure Canada JFK Law (representing Kainai Nation and Ermineskin Cree Nation)
Louis Bull Tribe
Métis Nation of Alberta – Region 3
Montana First Nation
Rocky View County
Samson Cree Nation
Stantec (consultant for the Proponent)
Stoney Nakoda Nations

Description of the Technical Advisory Group:

The Agency formed the Technical Advisory Group for the Springbank Off-Stream Reservoir Project (the Project) to obtain advice and feedback to support the Agency's conduct of the federal environmental assessment of the Project. Membership of the Technical Advisory Group includes federal and local governments and Indigenous Nations. The Agency is the responsible authority under the Canadian Environmental Assessment, Act 2012 (CEAA 2012).

Meeting context and objectives:

This document summarizes the topics and discussion points of the second Technical Advisory Group meeting for the Project.

The meeting objectives were to:

  • Provide information on the environmental assessment process and timelines - Agency.
  • Provide information on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – Proponent
  • Discuss concerns with the Environmental Impact Statement and environmental assessment process.

Meeting Summary

Agency Presentation

The Agency provided an overview of next steps in the federal environmental assessment process and information on drafting technical information requests. The Agency facilitated discussion on areas of federal jurisdiction (water, cultural importance of water, species of Indigenous importance), the incorporation of Indigenous knowledge into the environmental assessment process, and the need for mitigation in the environmental assessment process.

Alberta Transportation Presentation

On behalf of Alberta Transportation, Stantec presented information from the Project Environmental Impact Statement focusing on:

  • Debris Management and Accidents and Malfunctions
  • Hydrogeology
  • Hydrology
  • Water Quality
  • Fish and Fish Habitat
  • Wildlife and Biodiversity
  • Health
  • Historical Resources

Overview of Key Discussions including Concerns Identified

The views expressed do not represent the views of the Agency or consensus by the Technical Advisory Group.

Key discussions, including concerns identified, are summarized below and include:

  • Specific Project components (emergency spillway, road maintenance and repairs, and maintenance of in-stream components) and their use and location.
  • Potential Project changes to surface and ground water quality (particularly from debris build up or blockage in the storage reservoir and water storage) and subsequent adverse effects to drinking water and fish and fish habitat.
  • Fish sampling methodology and consideration of the life stage of the fish.
  • The need to consider cumulative effects of development on wildlife in the area as development and disturbance is encroaching on the remaining wildlife habitat.
  • The need to include upstream logging activities and the Bragg Creek Flood Mitigation Project in the cumulative effects assessment.
  • The need for buffer areas to protect land for traditional use, as it is important to maintain access and safety to ensure the continued traditional use of the lands.
  • The need for safety and spill response planning.
  • Accurately assess hydrogeology including the boundaries used in the modelling and consider potential effects to groundwater on Tsuut'ina IR 145.
  • Project effects to aquatic the environment including to fish, fish habitat, and benthic environments due to potential changes in temperature, sediment, water quality, and fish diversion into reservoir.
  • Effects of the Project on the hydrology of the Elbow River from the reduction of sediment.
  • Long term effects of the Project of the morphology of the Elbow River and whether the hydrological modelling conducted accounts for such effects.
  • Effects to wildlife, including:
    • Wildlife movement as the Springbank area is a wildlife corridor.
    • Wildlife habitat, due to loss of land and habitat fragmentation.
    • Habitat suitability and in turn, wildlife accessibility and availability for hunting.
    • Consideration that more grizzly bears have been using foothills and prairie habitat.
  • The need for a wildlife crossing over the highway due to the loss of land from the Project and specific mitigation and monitoring for species of importance (elk, grizzly).
  • Methylmercury accumulation in the food chain and subsequent human health impacts.
  • Assessment of potential impacts to federal lands. Tsuut'ina IR 145 was not included in many of the assessment boundaries for the valued components.
  • Difference between Western Science and Indigenous knowledge, and importance of including Indigenous knowledge. The need to include Indigenous Peoples in the baseline data collection. The Inclusion model developed as part of the regional planning process for the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan was presented as an example of how Indigenous peoples can be included into the environmental assessment process.
  • Not all traditional use studies have been incorporated into the EIS.
  • Project effects to plant species of medicinal and cultural importance.
  • Indigenous specific mitigation and monitoring.
  • Long-term monitoring commitments are important to adequately assess and mitigate the effects of the Project on Indigenous Peoples and should actively involve affected Indigenous groups.
  • Mitigations proposed for ground-nesting bird and amphibian species and the need for advanced monitoring to identify specific areas for these species.
  • How chance-finds of resources or sites of importance will be addressed in a way that is appropriate to affected Indigenous groups.
  • Importance of Indigenous specific health receptors, particularly on Tsuut'ina IR 145.
  • Country foods and the effects of sediment deposition. Identified the need to assess the effects of changes to country foods on spiritual and cultural wellbeing.
  • Scope of assessment of physical and cultural heritage. Important to consider gathering sites for cultural exchange and social interactions.
  • Participants expressed the need for additional discussion time in future meetings.
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