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Thousands of buildings threatened by erosion and rising waters in NB

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Dec20,2023

Thousands of buildings threatened by erosion and rising water levels in NB.

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During the passage of post-tropical storm Fiona in September 2022, residences near the shore in the south- eastern New Brunswick were submerged by water, like this one on the Pointe-du-Chêne road. (Archive photo)

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Thousands of buildings and roads will be threatened by erosion and flooding by the end of the century in five municipalities in southeastern New Brunswick, according to a new report. Among these territories studied, Beausoleil and Cap-Acadie are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The report, prepared by scientists from the University of Moncton and the Ministry of Natural Resources, focuses on the 1,700 km of coastline of Greater Bouctouche (which includes the former municipalities of Bouctouche and Sainte-Anne-de-Kent). , Champdoré (Saint-Antoine and Sainte-Marie-de-Kent), Beausoleil (Grande-Digue and Cocagne), Shediac and Cap-Acadie (Cap Pelé, Beaubassin-Est and Grand Barachois).

The authors established two different scenarios: a conservative one and a pessimistic one. The first assumes that erosion will continue to evolve in a linear manner according to the average erosion rates observed until now.

The second is based on the worst rates of coastal retreat measured in the area to establish future erosion. Neither scenario takes into account a potential acceleration of erosion.

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According to the pessimistic scenario, nearly a hundred buildings would be threatened by erosion 'by 2030, in just seven years in Beausoleil. This figure explodes to 1125 buildings at risk by 2100, or almost 10% of buildings in the municipality.

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As for roads, 24 km of infrastructure would be affected in 77 years, according to the pessimistic scenario, 7.7 km in the conservative scenario.

Concerning extreme flooding such as during storms like Fiona for example, it is also the municipality of Beausoleil which is the most affected.

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During the passage of post-tropical storm Fiona, Main Street in Shediac was submerged by water. According to scientists, the level would rise much higher during a storm of the same intensity in the future.

By 2050, less than 20 years from now, water levels in this type of weather event could reach 3 meters. These floods could affect more than 2000 buildings and more than 30 km of road.

The sea level is therefore rising, the same storm will reach higher levels in the future, explains one of the authors of the report, André Robichaud, professor of geography at the University of Moncton – Shippagan campus.

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During Fiona's passage, water levels had reached 2.1 meters. Scientists expect a storm of similar intensity to exceed 3 meters.

In Beausoleil, the consequences of global warming are already real in the municipality, according to the mayor. In the summer, we lost our marina, we had to demolish it after two big floods. Insurance companies no longer wanted to insure the buildings, explains Jean Hébert.

On the Cap-Acadie side, the most worrying scenario predicts that 866 buildings could be threatened by erosion by 2100, compared to 459 in the most optimistic scenario.

Nearly 1,400 buildings and 30 km of road would be affected by a major flood by 2030.

Even if the data is less alarming in the other three municipalities analyzed, there is no place where erosion and flooding will not threaten the coasts in less than 100 years.

The mayor of Grand Bouctouche, Aldéo Saulnier, says he is worried about the situation and believes that the different levels of government will have to put their hands in their pockets to help municipalities face at these risks.

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Grand Bouctouche Mayor Aldéo Saulnier believes that municipalities will not be able to act without help from governments.

The government will have to provide large enough amounts of money so that we can take our responsibilities. The municipality cannot spend millions of dollars to preserve the coasts, we do not have the means to do that, he explains.

The objective of this report is to be able to provide precise data to municipalities so that they can have time to adapt their infrastructure and manage their urban planning with full knowledge.

The idea is that people, municipalities, different levels of government are aware that if we build in a risk zone, problems can arise and that is what we are trying to avoid, continues André Robichaud .

Some of the municipalities concerned took note of the report published in August. In certain municipalities, it has been or will be presented to the population during public meetings.

With information from Nicolas Steinbach

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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