RQM stepping out on its own for flood risk mitigation


  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>Crews spent the afternoon of February 13, 2017 shovelling out water and snow from a flooded parking lot along the Liverpool waterfront.</p>

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) has nixed the recommendations of an independent 2019 flood risk mitigation report, which cost $78,214 and was made first public at the June 8 council meeting. Instead, it is forging on with a strategy designed by municipal staff.

The region had contracted Halifax's CBCL Limited to examine and strategize on coastal flood risk and potential mitigation plans.

The parking lot area around the visitor centre in Liverpool floods at least once a year. As water level rises and predicted storms get more intense, the flooding will get worse, according to the CBCL Limited report. The estimated sea level rise at Liverpool over the next 100 years could be 2.4 metres, and permanently cover the entire parking lot.

The firm presented its report, the CBCL Limited Liverpool Coastal Flooding Mitigation Study, and its four different options to council at a meeting November 12, 2019.

"After further review and discussions with CBCL Limited, the council at that time felt that none of the four options were in the best interests of the municipality and its downtown business core," the municipality explained in a recent news release.

Options ranged from building a seawall to raising the level of the parking lot and purchasing several affected buildings along the waterfront so they could be demolished.

Costs ranged between $2.825 and $9.1 million, plus the expense of purchasing and demolishing several buildings along the downtown waterfront area.

Half of the $78,214 cost of the study was paid through a Flood Risk Infrastructure Investment Program (FRIIP) grant.

Commenting on the study's recommendations, RQM Mayor Darlene Norman said, "To even begin to think the taxpayers of this municipality are going to begin to start buying buildings is a cost factor that we cannot consider." She described it as "unfortunate" that the former Town of Liverpool "infilled that area."

Most of the waterfront area was infilled by the town in the 1950s.

The region's staff is now working on its plan.

"What we are doing instead is working to protect what we consider important infrastructure for emergency services. The first being the main road into Liverpool, Market Street, which becomes impassable during those storms," said Norman, adding this is the main route to the hospital, for the RCMP and for fire services going out in an easterly direction.

At the June 8 council meeting, a motion was approved to apply to the FRIP. RQM's proposed project would cost $500,000 plus HST.

The plan is to elevate the street to a level above the projected storm surge rise and climate change indicators.

The project, expected to begin in the 2022-23 budget year, will require some design changes in the area to ensure the adjacent properties are able to maintain access.

However, "It won't protect the buildings in the parking lot, which was former river space, and it's not going to provide any protection for flooding that is going to occur in that area," advised Norman.

According to Norman, the project is a "very high priority," and if the FRIIP funding is not approved council would have to look to either long-term borrowing or fully utilizing the Canada Community-Building Fund , the former Gas Tax Fund.

"That would all have to be considered," said the mayor.

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