Nova Scotia

Province commits to Canso Causeway risk assessment following AG's report

The Nova Scotia government says it will do a risk assessment for the Canso Causeway and create a plan to manage an emergency response should something happen to the only link between mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.

'We need to do a better job of documenting our critical infrastructure assets,' says Zach Churchill

  The Nova Scotia government says it will do a risk assessment for the Canso Causeway and create a plan to manage an emergency response should something happen to the only link between mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.

On Wednesday, Auditor General Michael Pickup criticized the province in his latest report for not having done so already.

  "Given that that is a key piece of infrastructure, the number of cars, the transportation links that go across that, then there needs to be a risk assessment done by the province," he said.
More than 8,000 vehicles travel across the Canso Causeway each day. (Canadian Coast Guard)

The report said 8,300 vehicles and two freight trains use the causeway each day, while about six marine vessels use the canal each day.

The causeway is not alone in lacking a risk assessment plan. Pickup said risk assessments have not been completed for many government services, as well as assets like roads and bridges.

Response from province

Municipal Affairs Minister Zach Churchill said Thursday either the Emergency Measures Organization or the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal will take the lead on the file.

  "We need to do a better job of documenting our critical infrastructure assets and making sure we have assigned responsibility for responses," he said.

Pickup said things will happen that can't be planned for.

  "Part of the responsibility of government is to say, 'OK, we need to prepare so that life can be returned to normal when something does happen on a quick basis,'" he said.

Churchill said if something were to happen to the causeway, the focus would be on re-establishing the link.

  Pickup's report said that because  the federal government transferred ownership of the causeway and the swing bridge to the province, Nova Scotia already has documentation needed to prepare risk assessments and protection plans.

With files from Holly Conners

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