Nova Scotia

Senator appealing to Ottawa for Gabarus seawall fix

A Cape Breton senator is working to try to have the Gabarus seawall repaired before hurricane season hits in a few weeks time.
The seawall in Gabarus is one storm away from failing, say people in the community. (George Mortimer/CBC)

A Cape Breton senator is working to try to have the Gabarus seawall repaired before hurricane season hits in a few weeks time.

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.

The seawall has buckled in several places from storms over the past few years. It needs to be fixed before the next big storm hits.

A recent inspection by provincial officials deemed it an urgent situation.

But legal issues are holding up any repairs or replacement.

The federal and provincial governments are awaiting a ruling from the Department of Justice on which branch of government owns it and has a responsibility to pay for the work.

Senator Michael MacDonald, who grew up in nearby Louisbourg, says he's going to Ottawa to try to get a compromise while the legal issue is decided.

"There's enough argument to go around to think that perhaps there's shared jurisdiction here, I'm going to operate under that assumption and see if we can find some at least some short-term funding to stabilize this area," MacDonald said.

Tim Menk lives in Gabarus and is a part of a community group called Friends of Gabarus that's been fighting to get the seawall fixed.

The Seawall was constructed by the federal government in the 1940s and repaired in the '80s

Menk says MacDonald's efforts are well appreciated.

"I think every turn we have here where we have yet another person who has influence and connections in different levels of government is important for us," Menk said.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality has offered to pay one-third of the cost of the estimated $300,000 repair bill.

Menk says with the approaching hurricane season, the community is hoping that MacDonald comes through for them and quick repairs are done.