Trudeau announces $11.4 million in flood protection funding for Fredericton

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, walks across a pedestrian bridge next to the St.John River in downtown Fredericton with Member of Parliament for Fredericton, Matt DeCourcey, left, and Mayor of Fredericton, Mike O’Brien in Fredericton, New Brunswick on Thursday August 15, 2019. Trudeau was in Fredericton to discuss federal funding for flood mitigation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Stephen MacGillivray

FREDERICTON - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday $11.4 million in new funding to help protect Fredericton and surrounding communities from future flooding.

The federal money is meant to help the New Brunswick capital better protect key transportation systems and municipal infrastructure so essential services can continue during floods.

"We are keeping our communities safe and building for a future in which extreme weather events are going to be more common," Trudeau said as he stood on the banks of the St. John River.

He said the money would go directly to the municipality "to invest in flood mitigation, to invest in berms and wetlands and floodgates and the kinds of things that are going to keep this community and individual Canadians safe in the coming years."

The federal government says in the coming weeks, further spending totalling $120-million will be announced to help other flood-prone regions across Canada and to support climate resiliency and disaster mitigation projects.

The funds will come from a $2-billion disaster mitigation and adaptation fund launched in 2017.

Fredericton has battled three major floods over the past 11 years, including record flooding in 2018. "In Fredericton, people have seen first-hand the damage and uncertainty caused by extreme weather events," Trudeau said in a written statement.

Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien said while many of the projects have been identified, the city is still holding public meetings in an effort to set priorities.

"Can we raise some intersections and some key ramps for the bridge so that they are always above flood level? Are there ways we can mitigate some of the areas where the water spills over the banks of the river?" he asked.

He said there is key water and sewage infrastructure that needs to remain above flood level. "There are some big projects and there will be a lot of small ones," he said.

The money will be spent over the next eight years with 40 per cent of the total coming from the federal government and 60 per cent from the city. Trudeau said he hopes the provincial government of Progressive Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs, who has been a vocal opponent of the federal carbon tax, will also contribute.

"We also remain hopeful that the province is going to step up and recognize that climate change is a real challenge that requires investments now and into the future," Trudeau said.

The federal government says once complete, the Fredericton project will help protect over 27,500 residents within a 12 square kilometre area.

The City of Fredericton says the measures will reduce by 83 per cent the number of people directly affected by flooding and provide long-term savings in recovery and replacement costs.

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