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Dike risk at centre of Advocate Harbour public meeting

A public meeting is planned for Jan. 26 for the Advocate fire hall to discuss a study of the dikes near Advocate Harbour.
A public meeting is planned for Jan. 26 for the Advocate fire hall to discuss a study of the dikes near Advocate Harbour. - Submitted

Rising sea levels could compromise valuable infrastructure by 2100

ADVOCATE HARBOUR – Sea level rise is something that should be of particular concern to residents around Advocate Harbour.

After all, they’ve seen the power of the Bay of Fundy. In December 2008 a fierce winter storm damaged the seawall that protects the community. While it was later fixed, a predicted rise in sea levels around the globe presents the next challenge to the community sandwiched between the sea and the cliffs of Cape Chignecto.

“By 2100 the sea level is expected to be over the dike in Advocate,” Cumberland County’s EMO co-ordinator Mike Johnson said. “It’s not a question of it’s going to happen because it’s going to happen and we need to take steps now to prepare.”

While it could be seven or eight decades before the dikes are compromised, Johnson said there’s always the risk of a storm damaging the infrastructure before then.

The Municipality of Cumberland is organizing a public meeting at the Advocate fire hall on Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss a study that will be done of the dikes, why it’s being done and how residents can participate.

The federal government recently approved funding to study the dikes and what the best options are moving forward. He said the study will look at whether enhancing the dike by increasing its height is the best plan or should the community look at moving vulnerable pieces of infrastructure such as the school, the post office and the convenience store.

“We need to look at things like making the dikes higher, if that’s even possible, or moving those pieces of the community that are at risk,” Johnson said.

Johnson said residents will notice people working on the dikes doing drilling to collect samples and to look at the condition of the dike to see if work can be done.

He said there will be further public meetings later to discuss these findings and to gather input on what the community feels is the best way to proceed.

“It’s one thing to say we have to move your school or your post office, but we want to get input from the people, as well, about some of the issues they are going to face over the next 80 years or so, these are the options we have and how they would like us to move on this,” Johnson said. “We don’t want a situation where we just come in and say you have to move. We’re engaging them so they understand what the problems are and giving them input on what the response to the consequences would be.”

Johnson said it’s a situation similar to what’s being faced between Amherst and Sackville, N.B., where the mayors of both towns have joined with Cumberland County Warden Allison Gillis and Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey to lobby federal and provincial officials to fund a study on the dikes along the Tantramar Marsh.

Casey said an estimated $50-million in trade goes through the Isthmus of Chignecto every day and the dikes protect the CN rail line, the Trans-Canada Highway connecting New Brunswick to Nova Scotia and valuable farmland and commercial properties.

While the impact would not be as severe in Advocate, Johnson said it can’t be underestimated or downplayed.

“We need to find out which way is best to go. To address the issue is going to take years and money,” Johnson said. “

darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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