Construction begins on Sackville’s latest $2 million flood control project

Heavy equipment clearing snow & brush for water retention pond

Birch Hill Construction Ltd. of Moncton began clearing snow and brush on marshy land south of St. James Street on Tuesday in preparation for digging a retention pond designed to hold 40,000 cubic metres of water during heavy rain storms.

The work began the day after town officials held a public meeting to outline details of what’s known as Phase II of the Lorne Street flood control project.

“I think everyone in the room can hopefully agree that climate change is here, it’s real and we’ve seen a significant amount of rainfall and flooding events here,” town manager Jamie Burke told the meeting attended by the mayor, town councillors and about 25 Sackville residents.

“We’re getting more rain, we’re getting more intense storms and the temperature’s changing,” Burke said. “Those are the things that we’re trying to react to and plan for and that’s what this Phase II of the Lorne Street project is looking to do, how we can store that water in a strategic and manageable way.”

Burke explained that the storm water will be stored when tides are high.

“We can then fill up the bathtub and empty that water into the Bay of Fundy as time permits,” he added.

Artist’s rendering of retention pond area south of St. James and east of Lorne St. with natural landscaping, walking trails and park benches

Town Council awarded the flood control contract for just under $2 million at its meeting in December.

The contract also calls for construction of a much smaller pond that would collect storm water near the foot of Dufferin Street.

The water from the two ponds will flow through ditches and culverts under the CN Rail line and Crescent Street to connect with a ditch owned by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastucture (DTI) near the old railway station.

That ditch will carry the water out past the Armtec plant to an old DTI aboiteau and eventually into the Tantramar River at low tide.

Town engineer Dwayne Acton said the construction of the large retention pond should be completed this winter while the marshy ground there is frozen. He said the other work to install the smaller pond along with new culverts and ditching should take place in the spring and early summer.

Residents were also told to expect construction work to be ongoing on the site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday although some heavy equipment will be used at first, during the overnight hours, to tamp frost into the ground. (The tamping operation can be done only when temperatures are well below zero.)

A nearby disposal site for excavated soil hasn’t been chosen yet, so truck routes haven’t been determined, but Acton assured residents that most traffic would likely occur on Lorne and Crescent Streets as well as on an existing service road and not on narrower neighbourhood streets such as Charles.

Short-term solution

Later, Acton made it clear that this phase of the flood control project is only a short term solution and town officials are still hoping to secure federal and provincial funding for their original plan to construct a second large retention pond behind the community garden and then conduct all of the water from the Lorne Street area to a new, double-gated aboiteau for discharge into the Tantramar River near the town’s sewage lagoons in the industrial park.

The town was forced to abandon that plan when bids came in that were twice as high as the $2.9 million in federal, provincial and municipal funding that had been set aside for the project.

New Charles St. construction site office to manage the Lorne St. project

The town’s decision to scrap its original $2.9 million plan for the current $2 million one leaves almost a million dollars that could be used to extend the current flood control project, but there was disagreement during Monday’s public meeting about how that money could be spent.

The town is hoping to get federal approval to construct a retention pond in the old Sackville quarry to keep water from pouring into the downtown during heavy storms, but Sackville residents Percy Best and Keith Carter argue the money should be spent instead improving drainage around the rail line and Rte. 106 west of downtown Sackville.

Before walking out of the meeting, Carter complained that the flood control contract was awarded without any public consultation.

“Everything that’s gone on for the last three years has been done in a rush,” he said. “I’ve been to enough council meetings where you say, ‘why don’t we get some input from other people in the town?’ Well, you fellas don’t want any input, you just want to do what you want to do.”

Town manager Jamie Burke said Monday’s meeting was being held to inform local residents about the details of construction in their downtown neighbourhood, not as a public consultation on long-term flood control.

However, councillor-elect Shawn Mesheau suggested it might still be worth talking about spending money alleviating flooding in western Sackville before undertaking the quarry project.

“They’re both important,” Dwayne Acton replied. “We never said the [Rte.] 106 is not important,” he said, “[but] if we don’t do the quarry project and don’t retain the water up there, then it’s going to end up down on Lorne.”

Burke also repeated his point that Monday’s meeting was purely an information session.

“As we move along with the design of the quarry, we will have another public information meeting, depending on how far along we are, whether it’s a consultation session or information meeting,” Burke said.

“We have a project that’s starting tomorrow, we’ve got equipment on site, [a] 24-hour mobile shop, we want people in the area to understand what’s happening, and when. And that was really the purpose of tonight,” Burke explained.

More information about Phase II of the Lorne Street project is available here on the town’s website.

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4 Responses to Construction begins on Sackville’s latest $2 million flood control project

  1. Sharon Hicks says:

    First I would like to commend Bruce Wark yet again on providing such important information to the citizens of Sackville in such a factual and unbiased manner. Bravo, as usual.

    As Bruce reports, this very important meeting was left until just the very night before the project was set to begin. A handful of the residents who live in the area to be most affected, as well as other interested citizens who attended Monday night’s session, were finally given a chance to learn more about what this project might look like upon completion than at any other time during this entire two year planning process.

    As Keith Carter mentioned at the meeting, before he walked out in frustration, there were NO consultation meetings where members of the general public could ask questions or provide any input through this entire lengthy planning process, despite repeated requests for such a meeting to take place.

    Interestingly, the artist’s rendering included in this article, which was provided Monday night by the two representatives from Crandall Engineering, is dated May 3, 2018. For some reason though, that was the first time it was made available for any citizens to see. Why it was felt necessary to keep it secret all this time is anyone’s guess.

  2. Percy Best says:

    It is great to see that effort is being put into rectifying our Sackville flooding problems. But, it is sad to see that the majority of the funding is being directed towards building fancy walking trail ponds, as well as paying Crandall Engineering around half a million dollars for consulting fees, simply for this one job alone.

    The multiple ponds they keep introducing us to, for some unknown reason, seem to be based on Crandalls’ engineers’ belief that the water will not be able to get out to the Tantramar River for ONE FULL DAY while the rain falls, and or the snow melts. So they claim that one needs 100,000 cubic metres of water holding capacity.

    The FACT is that all the aboiteau gates along the Tantramar River or Carter’s Brook are only closed for under 5 hours — twice a day and it is this five hours time slot that one must store water. There is in excess of fourteen hours available (seven hours — twice each day) to empty ALL backed up water into the river system and this will happen just as soon as they replace the extremely undersized 2′ by 3′ wooden aboiteau (AB-02) in the dyke system near the rear of the Armtec Building as recommended by the Hilcon Report which was commissioned by our NB Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

    If this only had been the FIRST step in this prolonged Lorne Street Flood Water Mitigation struggle then we would have avoided the majority of this expense and any flood waters that had accumulated would have disappeared soon after the gate opened. A simple replacement of this aboiteau with a 6′ diameter one, as recommended in this report (page 10), and dredging of the ditch from Crescent Street leading to it will fix our flooding issue.

    There is NO need for ANY holding ponds as even the existing aboiteau (AB-02), is more than four feet below the bottom grade of the new railway culverts that are being installed. (Figures supplied to Hilcon by the Town of Sackville Municipal Staff — Pg 3). The new railway and Crescent St culverts will have an invert of 4.0 metres and the existing aboiteaux (AB-02) invert is at 2.61 metres. The ditch as well as the existing Dixon Inlet (22,000 square metres), once dredged slightly deeper, will have more than twice the temporarily needed holding capacity to retain the backed up water of a one in one hundred year storm.

    A calculated estimate of this capacity is 30,000 cubic metres and not any water would be backed up to Crescent Street. A five hour storm water back up is less than 25,000 cubic metres based on Crandall’s calculation of 100,000 cubic metres per 24 hours. As Crandall has informed us in the past, “The best place for an water storage is adjacent the aboiteau”.

    In addition to this, Hilcon recommends closing off an open culvert under Highway 935 (on page 9) and installing an additional drain under the railway tracks near Carters Brook so that flood waters on the Town side of the railway line down there can proceed out through the new triple 6′ aboiteaux that Modern Construction, under the guidance of DTI, are now installing.

    Back to what the Town is still planning for the future, Page 10 states that — “The proposed stormwater system would reduce flooding in the Lorne Street region; however, existing culverts would have to be upgraded and a significant amount of excavation performed to provide grade and stormwater storage. Constructing the proposed stormwater system will create significant environmental and constructability concerns as existing drainage paths would significantly change. These concerns are not discussed in this report, but will have to be considered if this option is further investigated.”

    So it would appear that if we just go with the way nature intended it will be much more cost effective and sensible. And, if we had only started with the replacement of the aboiteau behind Armtec, like the Hilcon Report stated, instead of working backwards, then we would not be worried about a flooded Lorne Street once again this spring.

  3. Rima Azar says:

    `”I think everyone in the room can hopefully agree that climate change is here, it’s real and we’ve seen a significant amount of rainfall and flooding events here,” town manager Jamie Burke told the meeting.’

    Well, the outdoor climate is changing indeed… but the one at Town Hall never does, it seems.

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