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Ottawa should pay for most of Chignecto Isthmus repairs: provinces

By Brad Perry Apr 21, 2023 | 2:18 PM

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia want the federal government to cover most of the costs to protect the Chignecto Isthmus.

Officials from both provinces met earlier this week to discuss on how to best protect the sole land bridge that joins the two.

A network of dykes and aboiteaux originally installed in the late 1600s currently protects communities, infrastructure, private lands and natural resources from rising seas levels and storms.

But rising sea levels and frequent severe weather events threaten the stretch of land, considered a vital transportation link.

“We are committed to finding the right solution to protect the corridor for many years to come. But we cannot do it alone,” New Brunswick Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Jeff Carr said in a news release.

A 2019 feasibility study identified three potential fixes ranging in cost from $189 million to $300 million.

The proposed fixes include raising existing dikes, building new ones, or raising the dikes and installing steel walls at select locations.

Nova Scotia Agriculture Minister Greg Morrow, who spoke on behalf of Public Works Minister Kim Masland, said the Chignecto Isthmus is not just important to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but the entire country.

The Trans-Canada Highway and CN Rail line carry about $50 million per year in goods and services through the isthmus.

“If we lose the isthmus to a climate change disaster, the impact will be severe,” said Morrow. “I wish the solution was as simple as putting a band-aid on it, but it’s not.”

Both provinces are pressing for the federal government to carry more than a 50 per cent share of the cost.

Carr said the project should be funded the same way as the Confederation Bridge, which was mostly paid for by Ottawa. He said neither province can afford to foot the bill.

“This piece of infrastructure is of national interest. We know that time is of the essence, and we are considering the proposed options currently on the table.”


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