Canada ready to fund Chignecto Isthmus protection if provinces match

By Transport Action Atlantic | Atlantic

Jun 24

Transport Action Atlantic has been raising the alarm for many years about the vulnerability of the railway line across the Chignecto Isthmus between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to storm surges in the Bay of Fundy.

The CN line, also used by VIA Rail’s Ocean, runs on top of the dike that also protects the Trans-Canada highway, communications infrastructure, and power lines. Should the existing dike be overwhelmed by a major storm, $35 billion in annual trade would be disrupted and parts of Sackville and Amherst could also be inundated.

An engineering study was finally comissioned in 2019, and completed last year. The Chignecto Isthmus Climate Change Adaptation Engineering and Feasibility Study presented three options, each of which could take up to ten years to fully implement, to reinforce 35km of sea defences and protect the isthmus from damage and flooding by foreseeable major storms until 2100.

The project is expected to cost at least $300M, so federal Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc has invited the two provinces to apply for half of the total cost under federal climate change resilience and adaption programs.

However, the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are not happy with this offer, and rather than putting up the matching dollars are insisting that the federal government should pay the whole cost, citing its constitutional responsibility for interprovincial transportation. Meanwhile, the municipalities and local MLAs are alarmed, knowing that the risk of a breach increases the longer we wait.

The Bay of Fundy tides won’t wait for political prevarication and posturing, and tax dollars all eventually come from the same pockets, so Transport Action urges all levels of government to get on with this vital project.

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