Petitcodiac causeway to remain open

The causeway gates of the Petitcodiac River will remain open after a judge has rejected an application by area residents for an injunction to close them.

Judge rejects injunction request

The causeway gates of the Petitcodiac River will remain open.

A judge in Moncton has rejected an application for an injunction to close the gates, which were opened last week by the province in an effort to restore the river.

The Lake Petitcodiac Preservation Association (LAPPA), a group of citizens living near the former lake that was created when the causeway was built 42 years ago, was seeking the injunction to save their lake.

The group's lawyer had argued Tuesday that the government acted illegally in opening up the gates because it didn't fulfill all of the conditions it promised to follow to protect residents.

But Justice Paul Creaghan, of the Court of Queen's Bench, has ruled the province provided adequate safeguards to protect residents from pollution and flooding.

The province has also provided assurances that it will monitor the situation closely and that any potential losses can be compensated, he said.

No evidence of irreparable harm

There is no evidence of irreparable harm to the residents, but forcing the gates to close would cause too much harm to the provincial plan to restore the river, Creaghan said.

It's difficult to objectively assess any perceived diminished beauty or attractiveness by changing the lake to a free flowing river, he added.

Creaghan said he believes LAPPA was using the courts to delay efforts to restore the river.

The group has the right to file a lawsuit, but he won't to grant an injunction forcing the gates to close until that lawsuit is heard sometime in the future, he said.

Plans to get rid of the causeway has been divisive issue in the community for decades. When the gates were opened last Wednesday, a chorus of cheers and boos erupted from the roughly 500 people who gathered on the river's banks to watch the historic event.

The province plans to replace the causeway gates with a four-lane bridge from Riverview to Moncton.

The total cost of the project has been pegged at $68 million.

In 2003, the river was ranked second on a list prepared by B.C. environmentalists of the most endangered rivers in Canada.

In 2008, the New Brunswick government committed $20 million to the first stage of a restoration project for the 3,000 square-kilometre watershed.