It was a cool day for an outdoor ribbon cutting ceremony, but that didn’t bother residents of Darlings Island one bit. Several residents of the small community east of Saint John turned out to officially open a section of the road that connects the island to the mainland.
The new road is a lifeline of sorts for people on the island who, in the past, have been held hostage by spring flood waters.
Jim and Gail Eastwood are Island residents who celebrated their wedding anniversary at the ribbon cutting.
“It’s great to see a new road,” said Jim Eastwood. “We don’t have to worry about flooding any more…for at least 20 years.”
Word to redevelop the road, which included raising it substantially, started in August and came after two straight years of record flooding. People living on the island had to rely on boats to navigate the dangerous freshet.
Many were asking why it took so long for action to be taken. The MLA for the area couldn’t give a definitive answer.
“We did make it happen,” said Gary Crossman. “We saw the need for it a year ago as well. There’s about three hundred homes I believe on the island. It’s an island and people say we can wait it (flooding) out for two weeks. But that’s not the right thing to do.”
It’s hoped the infrastructure fix will be enough to keep residents dry when waters rise every spring, which is almost a yearly guarantee.
“It means we don’t hopefully have to worry about being stranded and having to make the decision of staying on the island or leaving the island,” added resident Katherine White. “That we’ll have continuous transportation back and forth on and off the island. That’s a big deal especially as the population here on the island is aging,” she said.
The redeveloping of the road is about a kilometre long at a cost of approximately one million dollars.