Playing roulette with the aboiteau

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It’s hard to believe a wooden structure on the marsh near Amherst could have such an impact on the community, but concerns with the 56-year-old aboiteau have reached the point that the province really needs to stop studying the matter and get on with replacing it.

Provincial PC leader Jamie Baillie and Cumberland North PC candidate Judi Giroux met with concerned landowners on Tuesday and toured the aboiteau that holds back the power of Bay of Fundy from flooding the marshland and critical infrastructure around the town, including the Trans-Canada Highway, the railway and several million dollars in farmland and other infrastructure.

The provincial government has made no secret of its plans to fix the aboiteau. In November 2011, it announced it was spending $500,000 to hire a consulting firm to study the situation and come up with a workable solution.

At the time, landowners felt there would finally be some action after a previous attempt several years earlier failed just a couple of months after a new aboiteau was put in the LaPlanche River.

Since then, however, it has been relatively quiet and while the consultant has met with stakeholders in the area there has yet to be definitive word on when the province is going to actually replace the aboiteau.

As much as Baillie and Giroux could be accused of using the aboiteau to score political points on the eve of an election call, at least they were willing to listen to what landowners are saying with the PC leader saying he will hold the government’s feet to the fire to get action.

Baillie and other stakeholders were very clear with their message on Tuesday. The time for study has passed, it’s now time for action. While the existing aboiteau is continuing to hold, and there’s no indication of its imminent failure, those who know the marsh and the power of the Fundy tides fear it will only take one more major storm to cause its failure.

Global warming is a fact as are rising sea levels. It may be a number of years before those sea levels reach the point where they could threaten the dykelands, but LIDAR mapping has indicated what could happen if the water level rises and the aboiteau is breached. It’s not a pretty picture and one that would leave many asking why something hasn’t done to avoid a major calamity.

If it’s an issue of cost, the province has to compare that to what it would cost to repair the damage after the aboiteau fails. We can’t afford to continue playing games of chance with the aboiteau and the future of the area’s threatened by its failure.

Organizations: Cumberland North PC, Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: Bay of Fundy, LaPlanche River, Giroux

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  • Andrew
    May 16, 2013 - 08:44

    "As much as Baillie and Giroux could be accused of using the aboiteau to score political points on the eve of an election call, at least they were willing to listen to what the landowners are saying with the PC leader saying he will hold the government's feet to the fire to get action." Let's see, is that the stance he took while the PC's were in power? If Baillie was paying any attention, he would have noted that nearly $2 million has been allocated to remediating this issue by our NDP govt. that shows me who has been listening to the landowners. The aboiteau has been there for nearly 60 years. Where was Jamie Baillie's righteous indignation during the 52 years that the aboiteau was under the jurisdiction of either a PC or Liberal government? Within 2 years of taking office, this government has likely done more to take action on a PROPER repair of the aboiteau than any other previous governments combined. Action speaks louder than words, Mr. Baillie.

    • honker
      June 03, 2013 - 23:03

      Don't worry Andrew, the NDP will never have a chance to fix it. It is very doubtful that they will be the government after Thanksgiving.