Cape Breton working with province to get federal flood money

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality will work with other parts of Nova Scotia in a bid to secure federal funding to prevent a repeat of the 2016 Thanksgiving Day flood.

Mayor Cecil Clarke says combining bids across Nova Scotia will give best chance at success

The 2016 flood left people canoeing down the street. CBRM is looking at projects to limit future floods. (@caperguy33/Twitter)

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality will work with other parts of Nova Scotia in a bid to secure federal funding to prevent a repeat of the 2016 Thanksgiving Day flood.

CBRM's council heard an engineering report on Tuesday from CBCL on flood mitigation measures for Sydney's Wash Brook, which inundated homes on Thanksgiving Day 2016 and has come to near-flood levels several times since then.

The CBCL report called for a variety of flood control options that, if all completed, could cost nearly $25 million. However, the engineering consultant said many of the suggested controls would have very little effect on flooding.

CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke said one option, which includes a storm-water retention pond on upper Wash Brook and control structures on the lakes feeding the brook, seems most likely to be effective and acceptable.

Cecil Clarke says project work could start as soon as funding is approved. (CBC)

If CBRM chose that option, it could cost around $3.5 million, but to qualify for federal funding, projects must be more than $20 million.

Clarke said the provincial government will take the $3.5-million project and add it to projects in other municipalities and send one application to Ottawa totalling more than $20 million.

"We need to work with the provincial government for a Nova Scotia submission," he said Friday. "I know in the Colchester/Cumberland County areas, there are other projects that would meet that criteria. Really, when we get into storm and hurricane season, to be able to get this project advanced will provide extra comfort to those affected."

Clarke said his council will hold a public meeting to get feedback on which option it should pick from the CBCL report. Clarke wants to have everything ready for a July deadline for the federal funding.

'Ready to go'

"We're always going to have water, localized flooding issues to address, so getting some constructive projects underway now I think will restore some of the public confidence that was shaken by the severity of the Thanksgiving Day storm," he said.

"Because they're looking at funding criteria, because all these projects have been so detailed, I think we would be ready to go immediately."

The report offers a range of options to control flooding in Wash Brook, which wends its way down from the high ground at Sydney's outer edge to the flat lowlands around the former tar ponds site.

Council spent about an hour listening to a presentation from CBCL engineer Alexander Wilson, who outlined the 15 measures that could be taken to mitigate flooding in the flood-prone areas of Sydney.

Of those, 11 are considered of "low" effectiveness. One measure would have a medium impact and three would have "high" impact.

With files from Tom Ayers