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Sackville still at risk from floods under new plan

Above, workers install drainage as part of Phase I of Sackville’s Lorne Street project, which was completed last year. Phase II was expected to get underway this year, but town council recently learned tenders for this phase of the project came in at nearly double what was predicted.
Above, workers install drainage as part of Phase I of Sackville’s Lorne Street project, which was completed last year. Phase II was expected to get underway this year, but town council learned in July that tenders for this phase of the project came in at nearly double what was predicted. - File image

Mayor says proposed water retention pond will hold some flood waters, but not enough

SACKVILLE, N.B. – It isn’t the long-term solution town officials were hoping for. But the newly-redesigned flood control plan for Lorne Street will help manage storm water coming in, to a point.

Mayor John Higham explained during a recent council meeting that even if the proposed plan goes ahead, Sackville will still be vulnerable to flooding in that area of town.

“It’s not going to solve all the problems,” he said. “We know we’re still putting the lower part of the town in flooding danger and at flooding risk.”

Although the town was initially planning for a proposal that included two large retention ponds, new drainage pipes and ditches, as well as a new aboiteau structure, the contractor was forced to go back to the drawing board a few months ago and rejig the plan after bids for the tenders came in more than double the projected cost. The bids ranged from $5.9 million to $8.02 million; but only about $2.9 million in municipal, provincial and federal funds has been set aside.

Higham said the new reworked plan will serve as a short-term approach that will mitigate some of the flooding but not to the extent the town had first hoped.

“It is a budgetary situation where we don’t have much choice,” said Higham in response to questions from local resident Keith Carter about the project. “We have to look at what is the best thing we can do right now.”

The town’s latest plan will still involve construction of a water retention pond off St. James Street to hold the storm water until it can be flowed out with the tides. But Higham pointed out the pond is only designed to hold about 40,000 cubic metres of water, and a potential 50- or 100-year rain storm could bring three or four times that within a 24-hour period.

“There is a scientific basis of why there’s a need for a pond... and we can’t even, at 40,000 cubic metres, reach a third of that demand.”

Under the new plan, water will be routed from the retention pond through existing ditches to culverts under the CN tracks at Crescent Street where it will connect to ditching systems in the marshy fields and is sent to the Tantramar river using provincially-owned aboiteaux.

“What we’re doing now is all that we could afford to do with the money that is left,” said Higham.

The latest tender package was issued Nov. 6.

The mayor said the town still hopes to eventually go ahead with its original plan, but that likely won’t happen anytime soon without cost-sharing money from the federal and provincial governments.

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