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Nine years after a catastrophic flood caused billions of dollars in damage to parts of Calgary and surrounding communities, work is to begin on a dam to protect the area from rising water in the future.

Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday that the province has awarded a $744-million contract for the Springbank off-stream reservoir to Vinci Construction.

More than two-thirds of the cost, $576-million, will be picked up by Alberta taxpayers, and the remainder will come from the federal government’s disaster mitigation fund.

“Back in 2013, a catastrophic flood developed and this was the very heart of it and caused more damage than any flood in Canadian history – $5-billion of damage that destroyed an enormous amount of property and disrupted people’s lives in Calgary and surrounding areas for weeks,” Mr. Kenney said.

“We know it was a once-in-a-century flood, but we must be prepared for the next major flood and to prevent damage of that scale.”

The off-stream reservoir near the rural community of Springbank is west and upstream of Calgary.

The project, which will divert water from the Elbow River, was proposed after the 2013 flood, which claimed the lives of five people.

Mr. Kenney said the project is scheduled to be completed in 2025 and will create 2,200 construction jobs.

The project was delayed because several landowners, many whose families lived on the land for more than a century, were unhappy about the dam’s affect on their properties.

Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney said she is relieved the project is finally going ahead.

“There was controversy associated with this project for many years. We had voluntary negotiation on all of the land acquisitions so that is a good sign. There is no expropriation involved,” she said.

“It’s all complete 100-per-cent voluntary negotiation.”

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