Residents in the Village of Perth-Andover are hopeful the provincial government will help the community protect itself against major damage from possible future flooding.
New Brunswick government officials were in the village Thursday to announce that the province is evaluating the village’s flood adaptation plan.
The province’s Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Donald Arseneault, who is also the minister responsible for regional development, said the department of transportation and infrastructure is evaluating the proposal submitted by Perth-Andover in December 2016.
“We’re currently considering and pricing initial phases of the village’s proposal which would reroute roads, raise the Perth downtown and do preparatory work for the replacement bridge,” Arseneault said. “The province will work with the municipality to submit these options to the federal government if the provincial and municipal government agree and there is a clear interest from the broader community.”
The village’s report looks at proposed solutions recommended by Crandall Engineering, and is commonly referred to as the “Crandall Report.”
The report proposes rerouting Routes 105 and 109, raising the Perth downtown core above flood levels, opening two new development areas, and building a new bridge.
“As I’m sure you can appreciate, these are significant infrastructure projects that will require considerable review and planning and financing,” Arsenault said.
Perth-Andover mayor Marianne Bell said most homes have been taken care of since the devastating 2012 flood, but said local businesses in the flood zone are still at risk.
“It’s time our businesses and our organizations in the flood zone got the help,” Bell said. “The flood isn’t our fault, and we’re hopeful now that we can get some solutions.”
Bell said she’d like to see the proposed project completed within the next six years.
Victoria Villa Special Care Home owner Jennifer Eagan said this time of year is always stressful for business owners who operate in the flood zone. During the 2012 flood, she was the last person over the bridge during the evacuation as she tried to help elderly residents escape, she said.
“It was panic in the village. The flood sirens were going off, the buses were dropping off kids and they were running home,” Eagan recalled. “Firefighters were running door-to-door trying to evacuate people. It was complete chaos, very scary and traumatic.”
She said during the 2012 flood, the care home had four feet of water inside on the main floor, costing close to $50,000 in damage.
“At this point, five years later I’m just happy that anything’s being done for our businesses,” Eagan said.
The province was unable to provide a timeline at this point, but Arseneault said residents could see action as early as next year.
The minister says the province wants to ensure the plan they pursue will be the best long-term solution for the safety and viability of the community.
“We’re going to do it once and we’re going to do it right,” Arseneault said.
Arseneault said the province is encouraging residents to read the report and submit their feedback.
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