Town planner Lori Bickford says new information should be available within the next few months to help bring Sackville’s flood-risk maps up to date.
During Monday’s town council meeting, Bickford said staff at the Southeast Regional Service Commission are analyzing LiDAR laser imaging data from 2017.
“This will be used…to update future floodplain scenarios, mapping or to even just provide more detailed and newer information than what our current mapping is based on,” Bickford told councillors.
Sackville’s current map was adopted in 2013 and Bickford suggested she’d be surprised if the new information didn’t show any changes to underlying conditions.
She said scenarios based on the new data will be presented to council later this year and councillors can then decide whether to change the flood-risk map.
Ambulance station at risk?
Any changes to the flood map could have implications for zoning bylaws affecting development in areas such as Exit 506 where a Nova Scotia company is building a new Ambulance New Brunswick (ANB) station on Robson Avenue.
In a letter last month, environmental consultant Sabine Dietz urged town council to reverse its decision to rezone the area so that the ambulance station could proceed.
“The new location of the Ambulance building is not only ill-considered, but it potentially puts lives at risk,” Dietz writes.
“While I agree that the old location was highly problematic, placing an EMO building, an essential emergency service, within a known [flood] risk zone at this day and age, causes significant liability for our Town and residents.”
Dietz, who first raised the issue when she was running for a seat on council in November, notes that sea level rise and storm surges could flood all access roads in the 506 area including Robson Avenue.
“We cannot rely on the current dykes to protect us from increasingly unpredictable events, and certainly not from storm surges,” her letter adds. “The dykes are already being overtopped during high tide events.”
Dietz writes that any solution to fixing the dykes is years away.
“We cannot put our heads in the sand and expect for those dykes to magically be repaired tomorrow,” she writes.
To read Dietz’s letter, click here.
Mayor says no
In his reply to Dietz’s letter, Mayor Higham writes that town council approved rezoning the land to allow construction of the new ambulance station after a public hearing where concerns about potential flooding were raised.
“With the rezoning process complete and the new facility under construction, reversing the decision to locate the facility from the present position is no longer an option.”
Higham’s letter also says that the location of the building was pre-determined by ANB which is responsible for managing its own risk.
“As a municipality, we must manage risk as best we can, given that we are open to liability in a variety of service areas,” Higham writes.
He adds that if a major, one-in-one hundred year storm were to be forecast, the town would have to plan where to locate its assets.
“Similarly, I suspect Ambulance NB will mobilize their resources to be able to continue to deliver services to communities,” he writes.
To read Mayor Higham’s letter, click here.