Sackville is holding public meetings to allow citizens the chance to examine a new flood-risk map, the first update to the decades-old planning document.

The town's flood-risk map, which identifies areas vulnerable to flooding and dictates zoning restrictions, dates back to 1962.

Certain parts of the southeastern New Brunswick community have never been mapped at all.

Sackville, which is situated alongside the Tantramar Marshes, is protected by centuries-old dykes, but scientists say the town is becoming increasingly vulnerable to flooding, something local leaders say they are not taking lightly.

Sackville is the first New Brunswick community to implement such a comprehensive flood-risk map, a process that has been underway for a number of years.

The town council gave the public a chance on Monday night to discuss the brand new map, one that was created using the latest technology and takes into account changes in the environment.


Scientists say Sackville is vulnerable to flooding and that risk is causing local leaders to update the town's flood-risk map. (CBC)

"It's important to update the maps to reflect the risk of flooding in this area due to climate change and the higher tides that we expect," said James Bornemann, a geomatics analyst, who helped develop the new flood-risk map in Sackville.

Many parts of the town, including some of its intersections, can be found in a flood plain.

The new flood-risk map will help shape future planning decisions made by the town.

Lori Bickford, a land-use planner with the Tantramar Planning District Commission, said it is important to get the community's input on the flood-risk map because if it is set, the document will guide development issues.

"It would certainly impact anyone building in that area in that their property would now fall under different regulations," she said.

This includes restrictions on development and could affect the insurance policies of people in affected areas.

3 more public meetings

The public meeting on the flood-risk map drew a handful of people.

But community leaders say they have conducted other outreach strategies, such as focus groups and research with other communities.

It's now up to town council to decide whether or not the map will be adopted. The bylaw changes would then have to go through three readings at council meetings before they can be implemented.

A provincial government official said flood-risk maps used by the provincial government and communities are in the process of being updated.

Darwin Curtis, the executive director of the Department of Environment and Local Government’s climate change secretariat, said the provincial government has started mapping key areas using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), which uses lasers beamed down from planes or helicopters to measure land relief with incredible accuracy.

Tim Webster, a research scientist and flood-risk mapping expert at the Nova Scotia Community College, said communities need to "continuously update" flood-risk maps as science improves.