Brook flooding could test town-county co-operation

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If there were ever a time for Amherst and the Municipality of Cumberland to put their spirit of co-operation to work it would be working together to come up with a solution that would end the flooding of the lower part of Dickey Brook near Terrace Street.

Earlier this week, Amherst town council accepted an engineer’s findings that the flooding, often during heavy rain events, is not being caused by a pair of new culverts the town constructed over the brook in recent years at Charles and Academy Street. For this reason, the town has indicated that it doesn’t feel fixing the brook is its responsibility because doing so would set a precedent it feels it would have to repeat each time there is an issue with the brook.

Instead, it is suggesting setting up a meeting with all the stakeholders including property owners on the west side of Terrace Street, the town, the county and provincial officials to determine the best solution and, most importantly, who should pay for it.

The engineering firm hired by the town to study the problem suggested the brook in the Terrace Street area needs to be dredged to make it deeper, allowing for improved water flow through the area. It also suggests raising the affected properties to reduce their exposure to a flood risk.

It has also been suggested that if the county were to clean out its portion of the brook before it runs into the LaPlanche River that water would flow freely in the Terrace Street area and the risk of flooding during heavy rains would be minimized.

Ben Pitman, Amherst’s director of Transportation Services, said something during Monday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting that should create awareness. He said climate change is affecting the brook and those once in a lifetime storms are becoming much more frequent. In other words, he’s saying the status quo should not be an option and the quicker the town and county come up with a plan for the brook and nearby waterways the better both would be at controlling potential flood impacts.

It should also drive home the message that climate change is not something happening in a far off land, it’s happening here and we need to prepare. It would be easy for the parties to sit across the table and say it’s the other’s responsibility to fix the problem. Ideally, the co-operative spirit that has existed in recent years would see everyone come up with a workable solution that sees the problem fixed – even if it ends up costing everyone a few dollars to make it so.


Organizations: Amherst town council, Charles and Academy, Transportation Services

Geographic location: Terrace Street, Cumberland, Dickey Brook LaPlanche River

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