In 2007 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on climate change identified two places in North America that were the most vulnerable to rising sea levels. One was the city of New Orleans and the other was the Isthmus of Chignecto. Both of theses areas are ptotected by dykes but have valuable assets behind them which are below sea level. New Orleans has already suffered several floods relating to climate change and it is just a matter of time until the Isthmus of Chigneto suffers the same fate, unless steps are taken soon.
The Chignecto Isthmus, between Amherst and Sackville, provides the only rail line in and out of Nova Scotia, and the only viable highway in and out of Nova Scotia. The port of Halifax handles 480,000 containers or equivalents each year and almost all go across this Isthmus. The Dartmouth Auto port unloads 230,000 cars per year and virtually all go across the Isthmus to Canada and the USA. It is estimated that $50 million of trade passes over the Isthmus each day. This is in addtion to the many motorists that use the Trans Canada Highway to travel between Nova Scotia and New Brunsick as well as passengers travelling on board Via Rail.
If the rail line were to be breached, the highway would wash out as well. The Port of Halifax would shut down and we would quickly run into shortages of food, fuel and materials to operate our lives.
Government of Canada Provides $350,000 in Funding
For these reasons, the Governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick applied for funding to conclude an engineering study to determine the best approach to protecting this trade corridor. The municipalities of Amherst, Sackville, and Cumberland County have added their voices as well.
In response, the Government of Canada announced on Monday May 14, 2018 that they are providing $350,000 toward this study. The funds come from the National Trade Corridor Initiative and are exactly the amount requested by the provinces. This approval is one of the first under this program designed to ensure that Canada’s trade corridors are well maintained and provide competitive transportation.
The Governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are also committing $175,000 each, for a total $700,000 for this important project. The Request For Proposals by the provincial partners is being prepared now. There is no set timeline, but the situation is urgent and the provinces will move as quickly as possible on the study.
This is not a simple challenge. The potential flooding includes impacts on Sackville and Amherst, as well as two National Historic Sites, the rail line and the Trans Canada Highway, a pipeline, a great deal of agricultural land, bridges, trails and dykes, etc.