The mayors of Sackville and Amherst along with the warden of Nova Scotia’s Cumberland County are calling on federal and provincial officials to meet with them soon to discuss the threat of catastrophic flooding across the Tantramar marshes.
In a letter dated November 1st, but made public yesterday, the mayors and warden warn that a flood which cuts off the TransCanada highway and the CN rail line on the Chignecto Isthmus could cost $50 million a day in lost commerce.
“The infrastructure across the head of the Bay [of Fundy] is a key part of an integrated trade and commercial system of ports, marine terminals, airports, border crossings, and road and rail connections,” the letter says.
“The extent of damage of a major flood event on the isthmus will ripple across Canada, hugely affect our two provinces, and will be devastating to local governments at both ends of the Tantramar marsh.”
The letter points out that a dyke system first built centuries ago is no longer adequate to hold back the Fundy tides:
“The aging dykes combined with documented rising water levels and increased frequencies and intensity of weather events — has led to new floodplain mapping. These [maps] clearly show that a flood that will breach the national Rail and Road networks is no longer a theoretical question — it is a matter of how soon it will occur.”
The letter calls on infrastructure ministers from the federal, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick governments to meet with the mayors and warden within the next four to five weeks to assess the flood threat and to begin working on plans “to protect the infrastructure of National importance across the Tantramar marsh.”
Amherst Mayor David Kogon said he obviously supports the letter since he signed it, but would prefer to leave interviews with New Brunswick reporters to Sackville’s Mayor John Higham.
Mayor Higham says he’s hoping other levels of government will respond now that they see how Sackville is dealing with its own freshwater flooding problems in the Lorne Street area.
“I think it allows other people to see that we’re serious and that we have the capacity to do it and that we could be good money managers,” Higham said. “Now we can turn to the bigger issue.”
He added that federal and provincial officials may not be fully aware of the potential economic impact of catastrophic flooding here.
“So, we’re trying to raise that very, very quickly for people to understand that this is the time to act.”
To read the full letter, click here.
For more scientific information on the flooding threat, click here.
A rather basic fix has been proposed for quite some time now and that is the tying together of the Westcock Marsh dyke system with the Fort Beausejour dyke, a distance of just under one kilometer. A new aboiteau/gate system would be installed on the Westcock side of this new system. This, of course, would basically protect all the railway line, the TCH, and of course the Town of Sackville for the foreseeable future. It would also make MANY kilometers of existing dykes completely redundant as well as the proposed storm water retention ponds for the Lorne Street Phase II project. The existing Tantramar River from the Trans Canada Highway to the new gates would act as the ultimate retention pond and be way more than enough to alleviate any flooding worries.
Thanks to Percy Best for the explanation.
It is great (+ reassuring) to see two Mayors from two nearby provinces collaborating together on an important issue like this one to try to prevent a disaster. Thank you to our Mayor Higham (Sackville, NB) and Mayor Kogon (Amherst, NS). Best wishes!