Oct. 19, 2009
MONCTON (CNB) - Work is underway in preparation for the opening of the Petitcodiac River next spring. Premier Shawn Graham and Supply and Services Minister Ed Doherty provided an update today on the progress of the Petitcodiac Causeway Project.
"A sustainable environment is key to making our province self-sufficient," said Graham. "The restoration of tidal flows and fish passage along the Petitcodiac River is an important first step in repairing 40 years of environmental damage caused by the causeway. Restoring the tidal flow is also critical to rehabilitating the 3,000 square-kilometre Petitcodiac River watershed, which is a significant ecological asset for the Westmorland-Albert region and all New Brunswickers."
In July 2008, the government committed $20 million to carry out the first stage of the project. Work began in spring 2009, and has included restoration of Acadian dykes and aboiteaux to protect agricultural lands; reinforcement of the shoreline with armour stone to prevent erosion; and improving drainage of the traffic circle north of the causeway to reduce flooding.
"The scope of this project was established through the most comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA) ever undertaken in New Brunswick," said Doherty. "The conditions of the EIA approval compel us to do everything possible to ensure that people, their property and the environment are adequately protected as we prepare to open the causeway gates and allow this tidal river to flow freely as it was intended to do."
Allowing the river to flow freely in spring 2010 will coincide with the start of a two-year program to monitor the river, fish populations and surrounding habitat as anticipated changes take place. Stakeholders have been engaged in the design and will be involved in the implementation of those environmental follow-up programs.
"As work progresses, we are committed to communicate with stakeholders to ensure that they can have a greater understanding of this project, its outcomes and benefits, from both an environmental and community perspective," said Doherty.
Doherty also announced that a contract for construction of a new 550-m waterline to protect the water supply of Moncton and Dieppe has been awarded to Michels Canada for $6.3 million. The company is considered an industry leader in horizontal directional drilling and pipeline construction, and will begin work on the new waterline immediately.
Graham acknowledged the efforts of the Petitcodiac Fish Recovery Coalition, which is comprised of a number of angling and conservation groups, as well as the First Folly First Nation, all with a shared interest in the recovery of the river's historic fish population. The group has already begun work to establish a live gene bank of Petitcodiac River Atlantic salmon, which will help with re-stocking efforts once the causeway gates are opened.
"The construction of the Petitcodiac causeway did not simply block the river," said Graham. "It devastated the river's ecosystem, eliminated commercial fisheries, and changed a way of life for residents of Fort Folly First Nation who had used the river for fishing, travel and trade.
"Our undertaking of this important environmental project is significant not only here in New Brunswick, but across Canada and around the world. When the Petitcodiac River's magnificent tidal bore can be appreciated once again, and when species such as salmon, smelt and shad return, this endeavour will stand as a symbol of what we are capable of here in this great province, and why we can be proud to call it home."
MEDIA CONTACTS: Chrystiane Mallaley, communications, Department of Supply and Services, 506-457-7903; Jacques Paynter, communications, AMEC Earth and Environmental, 506-450-0843.