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Megan Mitton is the housing critic for the Green Party and the MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar. Image: Zoom video capture

More speed needed to protect Chignecto Isthmus: N.B. MLA

By Brad Perry Jul 24, 2023 | 6:27 AM

A New Brunswick MLA says she hopes ongoing bickering has not slowed down work to protect the Chignecto Isthmus.

“There have certainly been a lot of attempts to score political points by the different governments,” Memramcook-Tantramar Green MLA Megan Mitton said in a recent interview.

Mitton is referring to the back-and-forth between Ottawa and the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia governments over who should foot the bill, which is now estimated to be $650 million.

The federal government has offered to pay 50 per cent of the costs, but both provinces have maintained their federal counterparts should be paying the entire thing.

One day before last Wednesday’s deadline, both provinces announced they would apply for federal funding under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

“It could have happened months ago and all of these governments should have done something years ago. I’ve been advocating on this issue for over a decade,” said Mitton.

“I’m just hoping they haven’t wasted too much time to protect my community.”

A network of dykes and aboiteaux originally installed in the late 1600s currently protects communities, infrastructure, private lands and natural resources along the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border.

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

Proposed fixes include raising existing dikes, building new ones, or raising the dikes and installing a steel wall at select locations.

Mitton said while it seems like the project is starting to become a priority, she does not think governments are moving fast enough.

“If the Bay of Fundy overtops the dykes that protect my community, then we are in big trouble. It would be like the levees breaking in New Orleans,” said Mitton.

The MLA noted that a United Nations report identified the Chignecto Isthmus as one of the most vulnerable places in North America.

While the provinces have applied for federal funding, both premiers have threatened to take the matter to court to determine whether the federal government should pay the full cost.

Last week, the Nova Scotia government asked the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to rule on whether Ottawa has the “exclusive” responsibility to maintain the dikes.

Mitton said she is not against Ottawa paying more than 50 per cent, but she does not want the court process to slow things down even more.

“In the end, it’s going to be our taxpayer dollars here in my community either way. We just want to see things move forward.


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