New Brunswick

Trudeau announces $11.4M to protect Fredericton against flooding

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $11.4 million in federal funding to help protect Fredericton against flooding.

Prime minister will also visit Dieppe to celebrate National Acadian Day

Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien, left, shows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau how high flood levels have reached over the years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced $11.4 million in federal funding to help protect Fredericton against flooding.

The city will contribute another $17 million over eight years on flood adaptation, officials announced Thursday.

But the New Brunswick government is not a partner in the projects.

"We remain hopeful that the province is also going to step up to recognize that climate change is a real challenge that requires investments now and into the future," Trudeau said during a stop in the province's capital.

"In the meantime, the city and the federal government are going to be moving forward on this."

New wetland areas

The money will go directly to the municipality "to invest in flood mitigation, to invest in berms and wetlands and floodgates, the kinds of things that are going to keep this community and individual Canadians safe in the coming years," said Trudeau.

Mayor Mike O'Brien said the investments will help protect key transportation systems and municipal infrastructure to make Fredericton "even more resilient" and ensure essential services can continue during flooding.

The changes will help protect more than 27,500 residents within a 12-square-kilometre area, officials said. This would amount to protecting 83 per cent of the people now affected by flooding and provide long-term savings in recovery and replacement costs, according to the city.

Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien, left, discusses flood mitigation with MP Matt DeCourcey and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

City engineers will present a plan to council this fall, said O'Brien. In the meantime, he said the city is seeking public input to help shape that plan.

Sean Lee, assistant director of engineering and operations for the city, said raising roads in some areas will be part of the plan.

The city will pair the flood mitigation-related projects with capital work to get the maximum benefit for city taxpayers, he said.

The work will fall under four main themes: key transportation corridors, critical municipal infrastructure, neighbourhood-level flood protection and watershed resilience.

$120M for other flood-prone regions

In the coming weeks, another $120 million in federal funding will be announced to help other flood-prone regions across Canada, and support climate-resiliency and disaster-mitigation projects in communities, according to a government release.

The money is coming from the $2 billion disaster mitigation program established in 2015.

"Droughts, fires, floods, and heat waves — communities across the country are facing the impacts of the climate crisis," Trudeau said in a statement. "In Fredericton, people have seen first-hand the damage and uncertainty caused by extreme weather events.

"That's why our government is stepping up. By investing in the infrastructure our towns and cities need, we are building safer, more resilient communities, and helping to protect the businesses and services that Canadians rely on."

A visit to riverside

Trudeau made the announcement at the Carleton Street Armoury in the city's downtown, not far from the St. John River, which has risen to devastating levels the past two springs.

He walked along the river with Fredericton member of Parliament Matt DeCourcey and the mayor and stopped at the flood sculpture on the riverbank. The columns, created by a visual artist, are marked 8.31 metres, the flood level from 2018, the highest flood level in recent history.

Trudeau was scheduled to be in Dieppe later in the day to attend the official ceremony for National Acadian Day.

Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor and Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie Mélanie Joly were expected to accompany him at the Dieppe City Hall Complex for the Grand Tintamarre.

Andrew Scheer, Conservative party leader and leader of the Official Opposition, was also scheduled to be in Dieppe for Acadian Day celebrations.

The appearances come about two months ahead of the federal election, and one day after Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion published a damning report. 

Dion found Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act by trying to influence then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to the Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin.

With files from Hadeel Ibrahim

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