Nova Scotia

Ownership dispute delays Gabarus seawall repair

The seawall in Gabarus, Cape Breton, has been slowly deteriorating over the years. Now, people in the area say the situation is at a critical stage.

Damaged barrier could give way in next storm

The seawall in Gabarus is "one storm away" from failing. (Google)

The seawall in Gabarus has been slowly deteriorating over the years. Now, people in the area say the situation is at a critical stage and they are asking the federal and provincial governments to set aside their differences, and step in.

Gabarus is perched on the eastern coast of Cape Breton, with only the seawall protecting the community and the Gabarus wharf from the ocean's ravages.

Tim Menk of the Friends of Gabarus, said that protection isn't what it used to be, even five years ago.

The seawall is, "one wave away, one storm away from being torn asunder in one or more places," he said.

"The storms and the storm surges are much higher, so you can think it stands to reason that the damage would be more significant."

But any potential fixes have been delayed by squabbles between the federal and provincial governments over who owns the seawall, and who's responsible for the cost of repairs.

Roger Cuzner is the Liberal Member of Parliament for the area.

"The research that we've been able to do hasn't really determined one way or another just where this piece of property sits," he said.

"The federal government believes it's been divested, but it's never been accepted by the provincial government."

Menk said his group doesn't think it really matters who owns the seawall.

"It's the responsibility of government, and government has held responsibility for the seawall no matter who built it nor who owns it," he said.

"They exercised authority over it at the federal level. The province has stepped forward; the federal government has yet to do so, and we believe that that's the issue. They need to come forward and do what their obligations are under law."

Menk said his group is going to arrange a community meeting over the issue in the next few weeks, to try and get more people involved in the issue.

He said they are also planning an emergency measures drill, just in case the worst happens.