The Alberta government is instituting measures to protect Beaver Pond and requiring additional wetland monitoring related to the construction of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road.
Following recommendations of the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), the minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, signed a Ministerial Order directing Alberta Transportation and KGL Constructors to undertake additional protection of wetlands disturbed by the construction of the southwest section of the Calgary Ring Road.
“Albertans expect the highest possible standards for the protection of wetlands in all infrastructure projects, and I want to thank the Environmental Appeals Board for their thorough review,” said Phillips. “Through this order, we are taking the necessary steps to protect wetlands, while continuing work on this vital project for Calgary and setting the stage for better projects going forward.”
The order will allow development of this landmark project to continue, but it will prohibit any work from affecting the Beaver Pond and will require Alberta Transportation and KGL Constructors to monitor the water quality and quantity in the pond.
The order is not anticipated to affect the timelines for completion of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, which is expected to be finished on time and open to traffic in 2021.
“I would like to thank Minister Phillips for her cooperation on this issue and for allowing this project to proceed. By working together, we are showing our commitment to protecting wetlands while also making sure this important piece of infrastructure gets built,” said Brian Mason, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation. “We know how important the Ring Road is to Calgarians, as it will help families spend less time in traffic, more time together, and improve the safety of our roads.”
The decision comes after two appeals were filed with the EAB under the Water Act. Minister Phillips accepted all of the EAB’s recommendations and added further conditions for construction of the project to continue.
Key recommendations and additional conditions include:
- Prohibit any disturbance of the Beaver Pond (Wetland 06) and require protection measures be undertaken to ensure the construction does not disturb any portion of the pond.
- Add monitoring of the quality and quantity of water entering Beaver Pond to ensure the project is not negatively impacting this wetland.
- Require reassessment of wetlands included in the approval according to the 2013 Alberta Wetland Policy, applying a higher compensation standard for wetland restoration.
- Prohibit further work related to Wetlands 07 and 08 until the reassessment of the wetlands is completed and Alberta Environment and Parks can provide any additional instructions regarding avoidance or mitigation, if possible.
- Require public disclosure and analysis of the monitoring results.
Image Credit: Alberta Transportation.