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Back-to-back flood years have Fredericton looking to shore up riverbank
FREDERICTON -- The City of Fredericton has released its findings from two community meetings held to hear residents’ flood experiences.
From raising downtown intersections, installing valves, and adding trees and shrubs to riverbanks, city officials responded to the ideas raised by homeowners and businesses following two years of historic floods.
“We found, having two back-to-back really high floods in both 2018 and 2019, has signalled that there’s a change. Something’s very different than what’s happened in the past. People are engaged,” said Sean Lee, the city’s assistant director of engineering and operations.
In some cases, the city is already addressing the issues that were raised.
Residents said the city should add more trees and shrubs to better protect the St. John riverbank.
In its response, the city said:
“The current Municipal Plan calls for the city to acquire riverfront property whenever it becomes available. This practice has been in place for many years and the city has bought up many hectares of riverfront property to restrict development and encourage better ecological management by treating the land, restoring it to its previous state, and protecting it into the future. We’ll continue to do this.”
Lee said they are working to install valves in some flood-prone areas before Christmas.
Over the next decade, more infrastructure projects are planned, like raising roads, valving storm sewers and a new parking garage.
“The adaptation for flooding is not a one-year fix or a short-term fix,” Lee said. “We’ve been doing work for about 20 years now, and 20 years from now, we’ll still be doing work. It is a long-term plan and we’ll just keep working and making Fredericton more resilient.”
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick said it’s happy with this report as a first step. But executive director Lois Corbett would like to see an equal focus on nature.
“It over emphasized the engineering fixes and under emphasized nature’s protection,” she said.
She would also like to see more on one particular topic.
“Mental health impact of continuous floods and climate change on people’s state of mind and how they feel,” she said. “I’m sympathetic to not having the city be the end all and do everything for all of its residents, but on the other hand, it’s such an important issue to citizens.”
In August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $11.4 million in new funding for flood mitigation projects in Fredericton. The city is also investing $17 million over the next eight years.
Lee said the city will be releasing more of an in-depth infrastructure plan in the coming months.