Province steps in to fix broken Hantsport aboiteau
Published Friday, January 4, 2019 10:35PM AST
People worried about a damaged dike near Hantsport, N.S. got some good news Friday.
As hundreds gathered to protest, the municipal affairs minister promised a temporary fix for what has been a long-standing problem with an aboiteau badly in need of repairs.
The protest was a sign of solidarity and determination as hundreds of Hantsport residents marched together chanting, “Fix aboiteau! Fix aboiteau!”
They were demanding a fix from the province for a problem that's been plaguing the community for more than a year.
An aboiteau is an Acadian dike, designed to allow water to drain from the land, but prevents salt water from entering.
But in the fall of 2017, the one near Hantsport broke causing salt water to pour into 40 acres of land and turning a piece of farmland into a pond.
And that's not all the damage it caused.
“We have a cemetery up to the side, which is eroding away,” said Traci Curry of the local Aboiteau Action Committee.“We have sports fields and trails that have left, but most importantly, we have homes that now have salt water in their wells.”
Homeowners like Courtney Shay and Evan Merks, who purchased their property two years ago.
“I've had to tote water, since mid-August, to supply our home with a fresh water source,” said Shay.
The protesters said they want an immediate fix, and a few hours later, they got an answer.
“The big part of this is, we will be stopping the water from flowing in as you now have it,” local MLA Chuck Porter told the protesters.
The provincial government promised a temporary fix, with a permanent structure to follow. Porter said part of the reason for a delayed response was due to a question over who owned the land where the dike broke.
“It's taken a while to get to where we are, but this isn't just something you plan overnight either,” Porter said. “It's taken us awhile to get here, but we are here, and you know what? We're moving forward.”
Porter couldn't offer a timeline or cost, but did promise residents it would be fixed in months -- not years -- with the hope the federal government will pitch in.
Meanwhile, the opposition says, action should've been taken earlier.
“It probably falls into the category of 'better late than never,’” said Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston. “But it's a failure of government that it had to get to this point.”
No compensation was promised for affected homeowners, still, residents say they're cautiously optimistic.
“It's an action,” Curry said. “So, now, we'll wait and see, what happens. We're not taking our signs down until the aboiteau gets fixed and the water stops flowing.”
The minister is hoping work will start next week. Residents say they'll wait and see.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Amanda Debison.