Town planning for flooding effects of climate change

Sueann Musick
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PICTOU – The Town of Pictou knows that being a coastal community has its perks, but not necessarily when it comes to climate change. 

Pictou town councillors have adopted a Climate Change Action Plan that focuses largely on where the extra water generated by extreme weather will go to as more and more storms hit the county.

Council held a special council meeting Monday to adopt the plan that identifies issues and hazards that could arise from climate change, people and places that would be affected, implications as well as ways to adapt and mitigate.

Since Pictou is a coastline town, risk areas largely focus on storm surges and overburden on its water and sewer system.

Town CAO Scott Conrod said Pictou spends up to $5,000 a year fixing the Jitney Trail after storm surges wash away banks and gravel from the popular recreational area.

He said flash flooding can also overwhelm sewer lines and residents’ basements. Key areas of the town known to flood, such as school parking lots as well as areas along Caladh Avenue, are on the list, while over-flooding of lift stations along Front and Denoon streets are other concerns.

Storm surges in the past have also caused extensive damage to the town’s marina that resulted in lost business while repairs were being made to the docks.

Conrod said one key area that needs to be addressed is a storm water management plan that will require the municipality to look at its current storm water system and see if upgrades are needed to better accommodate even more water from storms.

Other priorities include additional emergency preparedness that would identify an evacuation site for residents as well as looking at its water distribution system to see if more water storage is needed in the town in case of an emergency.

The report also states that all municipal structures should be reviewed for snow-loading concerns so that roofs on these buildings don’t collapse or weaken.

On a positive note, the report outlined many things the town has done to improve its own infrastructure, including storm water separations on Church and Prince streets as well as in the deCoste Centre parking lot. It has also upgraded its fire hall, public works department and town hall and put new lights in the deCoste Centre and a new boiler in the Fisheries Training Pool. The RCMP detachment on Caladh Avenue has received new thermostats. New LED street lighting for the town will save about $80,000 a year in energy costs.

However, he said, projects in the future such as well-head upgrades and more storm water separations will cost the town hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Conrod suggested that council consider putting some money aside to deal with storm cleanups so that it isn’t stressing out its general operating budget to cover such unexpected costs.

“Take a few big storms and a few years in a row with $50 to $60,000 deficits and it may lead to some real ugly things,” he said.

Council approved the adoption of the Climate Change Action Plan, which must be submitted by Tuesday as part of the federal and provincial agreement on transfer of gas tax revenues.

The plan is amendment to the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan and, if approved, will allow municipalities to keep receiving federal funds for environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects. 

Organizations: RCMP, Integrated Community Sustainability Plan

Geographic location: Caladh Avenue

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  • Sigh
    December 31, 2013 - 12:37

    Mememine69: what are you talking about?? Take off your tin foil hat, stay away from Fox and Sun Media and read actual news/peer reviewed science. My goodness, PC is like stepping back in time..

  • mememine69
    December 30, 2013 - 21:58

    Believe all you like but you cannot say a crisis will happen for our kids until science says it. Science only agreed it "could be" a crisis not WILL be a crisis as not one IPCC warning agrees beyond "could be" a crisis or says "will be".