‘All means all’

PC lead­er­ship can­di­date says prov­ince should fix fail­ing Hantsport aboiteau

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PC lead­er­ship can­di­date and agri­cul­ture critic John Lohr says the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture is fail­ing in its role of main­tain­ing the pro­vin­cial dyke sys­tem af­ter an aboiteau near

Hantsport was com­pro­mised.

“I do be­lieve the prov­ince has to have a rapid re­sponse plan in place when (aboiteaus) start to de­te­ri­o­rate,” Lohr said.

Lohr said he re­al­izes that the way the Hantsport aboiteau de­te­ri­o­rated would have re­quired more than a quick fix but adds that it’s still the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to ad­dress th­ese is­sues.

“I know there’s a de­bate over ju­ris­dic­tion and I know that the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture is (re­spon­si­ble for) all — A-L-L — aboiteaus and dyke­land, that’s in the act,” he said. “I’m not sure how the min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture can jus­tify not cov­er­ing all of them if the word ‘all’ is in the act. To me, all means all.”

The Kings North MLA said he’s aware that the owner of the rail­way, which sat on top of the aboiteau, has reached out to the prov­ince to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

Pro­vin­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity?

Lohr brought up the dyke­land and aboiteau is­sue with the min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod at the Nova Sco­tia leg­is­la­ture in 2016.

In that ex­change, the min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture, Keith Col­well, said that his re­spon­si­bil­ity, as far as dykes go, is with farm­land and that struc­tures out­side of that are a mu­nic­i­pal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I know there’s one (dyke) in an area — Wolfville is one ex­am­ple. You go along the dykes and there’s the dyke, it stops and there are play­grounds and all kinds of build­ings in­side it. The dyke is where the depart­ment’s re­spon­si­bil­ity ends and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity has done noth­ing to build a dyke on their sec­tion of it,” Col­well said in 2016.

He also said dur­ing that ques­tion pe­riod, “They are work­ing on a new stan­dard to work with com­mu­ni­ties to bring th­ese things up to scratch but it’s re­ally not our re­spon­si­bil­ity. Again, the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have taken it on them­selves and put things in harm’s way that could po­ten­tially be in harm that aren’t au­tho­rized by us — they found a cheap piece of land or what­ever the case might be.”

Lohr ar­gues that it’s the prov­ince’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to main­tain the dykes re­gard­less of what the sur­round­ing land has been used for.

“I know that the Half­way River bridge is sort of threat­ened right now, which is one of the big is­sues with this (in Hantsport),” Lohr said. “I think the depart­ment is try­ing to get some­one else to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for what they are ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for.”

But a larger con­cern for Lohr is the dyke­land and aboiteau in­fras­truc­ture across the prov­ince — ap­prox­i­mately 300 kilo­me­tres worth.

“There’s a vast amount of in­fras­truc­ture that’s only slightly bet­ter off than the Hantsport aboiteau. It’s OK, but it’s not great,” Lohr said.

He’s es­pe­cially con­cerned now, with ris­ing sea lev­els cou­pled with higher tides, that will likely put an added strain on the in­fras­truc­ture.

“There’s a lot of in­fras­truc­ture there, it won’t be easy for any govern­ment, and I be­lieve there should be a fed­eral part­ner­ship,” he said. “If we have a storm surge and a flood, fed­eral dis­as­ter re­lief will be in­volved, so why can’t we get fed­eral fund­ing now to start fix­ing up some of th­ese dykes so we can pro­tect agri­cul­tural land and in­fras­truc­ture.”

Agri­cul­ture min­is­ter not in­volved

When asked for com­ment, the min­is­ter of agri­cul­ture’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marla MacInnis said Col­well is not in­volved with the Hantsport aboiteau, adding a com­ment from the Depart­ment of Trans- por­ta­tion and In­fras­truc­ture Re­newal.

“The Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and In­fras­truc­ture Re­newal has been in con­tact with Wind­sor & Hantsport Rail­way who are pri­vate own­ers of the Hantsport aboiteau,” MacInnis said. “Main­te­nance and re­pair of the struc­ture are the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the landowner. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and In­fras­truc­ture Re­newal, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, as well as lo­cal busi­ness of­fi­cials have all been on site and wit­nessed the dam­age first hand.”

MacInnis added that ma­jor ero­sion has caused the bank to com­pletely wash away.

“The tim­ber box cul­vert sys­tem that forms the aboiteau struc­ture has ex­pe­ri­enced ex­ten­sive dam­age,” MacInnis said. “We are mon­i­tor­ing lo­cal pro­vin­cial in­fras­truc­ture, which in­cludes roads and bridges. Be­cause of un­usual high tides and the loss of the Wind­sor-Hantsport rail­way struc­ture, wa­ter reached the bot­tom of the bridge on Trunk 1 at Hantsport on Feb. 2. We tem­po­rar­ily closed the bridge so our en­gi­neers could prop­erly in­spect it. No is­sues were iden­ti­fied and the bridge re­opened that evening.”

John Lohr

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