If all goes according to plan, Sackville will get another extension to its Waterfowl Park this year.
Town councillors will be asked next week to approve an agreement with Ducks Unlimited (DU) that would enable preliminary work to start soon constructing a six acre pond on vacant land behind the Marshlands Inn, north of St. James Street and east of Lorne.
The town has released information showing it spent $75,000 purchasing two parcels of land for the DU pond from Marshlands owners Lucy and Barry Dane, who operate under the company name Blaj Hospitality Inc.
The town also spent an additional $25,000 to buy a third parcel from Sarah Evans and Alan Barbour, who run the Black Duck Café.
The DU pond was first announced in November 2017 when town officials outlined plans for the construction of three ponds as part of the Lorne Street flood control project.
A larger pond that will be able to hold 40,00o cubic metres of water is now being dug south of St. James Street and if council approves, soil excavated from it would be used to construct the berm needed to contain water in the smaller DU pond, which could store up to 8,600 cubic metres.
Town engineer Dwayne Acton told council Monday night that DU will pay the costs of creating the pond and installing the water control structure that would connect to a culvert under St. James Street. He added the group would also be responsible for maintaining the pond during a 25-year renewable lease.
Acton said DU had been planning to begin work this summer, but approached town officials late last week hoping to use some of the earth being excavated for the pond south of St. James to build the dyke or berm needed to contain water in its own pond.
“They don’t like to dig earth because they’re disturbing the earth,” Acton said. “So that is why they’re asking us if they could…bring the material in from across the road to build the berm.”
He said DU would hire a contractor in the spring to shape the berm and build the structure to control water levels in the pond.
Acton added that the normal water level would be one-and-a-half feet, but the three-foot berm would allow additional water to be stored during severe storms before being slowly released.
He said the town would look at putting a walking trail on top of the berm along with interpretive signs.
“Essentially, it would be an extension of our Waterfowl Park, very similar to what you’d see if you’re walking out on our existing Waterfowl Park,” he said.
Other property purchases
The land purchases for the Ducks Unlimited pond were part of a total outlay of $373,900 since the town began assembling land for the Lorne Street flood control project in early 2017.
Town manager Jamie Burke told councillors on Monday that in total, the town has acquired 18 properties with all but one of the transactions fully complete.
“This has been almost a two-year, complicated process,” Burke said, adding, “trying to do this in a small town in an efficient way and protecting the taxpayers’ money is extremely difficult, so we’re very pleased that we’re now complete in this process.”
Burke said the land acquisitions allow the town to carry out the current phase of the flood control project and to push ahead with Phase III if it succeeds in getting money from the federal and provincial governments. (Phase III would involve construction of a large stormwater retention pond behind the community gardens on Charles Street as well as installing culverts and digging ditches to drain water across the industrial park to a new aboiteau on the Tantramar River near the town’s sewage lagoons.)
CN land swap
Burke outlined a complicated land exchange with CN Rail under which the town agreed to purchase the Crescent Automotive, AutoPlus store in the industrial park for $99,900. The town then gave the building to CN in exchange for seven CN properties needed for the flood control project.
“It worked for us and it worked for them,” Burke said, adding that the town managed to create a partnership with CN on flood control.
“This has been a long, complicated, frustrating at times, file,” Burke added, a sentiment echoed by Mayor Higham.
“Wow, this was much more complex than we thought it was going to be going in,” Higham said.
“I appreciate the inventiveness you’re shown here to protect the taxpayers’ dollars with the deals across, swapping and slipping and moving around so that we could cover the potential footprint of a flood mitigation strategy with this,” the mayor added.
To read more details about the town’s property transactions, click here.