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Who is going to fix dikes on the Tantramar Marsh?

Mayors in Amherst and Sackville, N.B. and Cumberland County's warden have written infrastructure minister in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ottawa to ask for a meeting regarding crumbling dike infrastructure on the Tantramar Marsh.
Mayors in Amherst and Sackville, N.B. and Cumberland County's warden have written infrastructure minister in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ottawa to ask for a meeting regarding crumbling dike infrastructure on the Tantramar Marsh. - Google Earth

Municipal leaders in N.B. and N.S. request meeting to fix aging dikes

AMHERST – Municipal leaders on both sides of the provincial border are stepping up their efforts to have critical infrastructure on the Tantramar Marsh repaired.

Amherst Mayor Dr. David Kogon, Cumberland County Warden Allison Gillis and Sackville, N.B. Mayor John Higham have written infrastructure ministers in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ottawa asking for a meeting to begin the planning process to repair or replace crumbling dikes that protect both the Trans-Canada Highway and CN rail line from the Bay of Fundy.

As we live here we can attest to the documents showing the quickly increasing risk of flooding from the Bay of Fundy. This infrastructure across the head of the bay is a key part of an integrated trade and commercial system of ports, marine terminals, airports, border crossings, and road and rail connections, the municipal leaders said in the letter dated Nov. 1. The extent of damage of a major flood event on the isthmus will ripple across Canada, hugely effect our two provinces, and will be devastating to local governments at both ends of the Tantramar Marsh.

The letter comes several weeks after the mayors and the warden met with Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey and Beausejour MP Dominic LeBlanc to see if there would be any federal help.

The group is proposing a meeting with senior infrastructure department officials within the next four to five weeks and the creation of a working group to outline funding sources, draft an initial terms of reference and work toward putting together an application package for funding to make the necessary repairs.

Protection of the infrastructure depends on a series of agricultural dikes dating back to the 1700s. Combined with rising sea levels and the potential of intense storms has the municipal leaders concerned that a flood would breach both the highway and the railway and damage inland infrastructure.

A 2016 study of this topic by Natural Resources Canada estimates that a flood that interrupts road and rail activity here will cause over $50 million a day in lost commerce. That report also examined adaptation options and found that the most cost-effective measure was to shorten and re-engineer dykes with a specific intent to protect priority infrastructure, the letter said. Since the study was released we have been working to raise understanding of the scope of the threat. While our local jurisdictions will be impacted, a solution requires far more than we can offer. Action requires national and interprovincial commitment and involvement of multiple public agencies as well as effected private ventures.

darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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