Sussex approves contract to fix flood damage to trails, ballfields

Sussex council approved a six-figure contract Monday as it works through what CAO Scott Hatcher said could be as much as $1.1 million in damage to municipal assets in February.

The tender for flood remediation with E.J. Cunningham was quoted at $284,680 and covers flood repair and resurfacing, some of which can be recoverable under disaster financial assistance, deputy mayor Tim Wilson told council. According to CAO Scott Hatcher, the town has estimated $1.1 million in uninsured damage to municipal assets from widespread flooding Feb. 28 and 29.

"This is the first process to allow us to engage a contractor... to start remediating some of the damage in our parks and trailways," Hatcher said, saying they are also waiting for federal watercourse permits to complete some of the work.

Contractors are 70 per cent through remediation of O'Connell Park trails and are now starting work to restore some affected ballfields, which are currently in use but are "a bit rugged... when this gets done, the ballfields will be in the condition that are typically expected," Hatcher said.

Next after that is restoring pathways between Maple Avenue and Leonard Drive and then Sullivan Park, Hatcher said.

"It's a lot of tedious work, a little bit here, a little bit there, but at the end of the day we need to have the pathways restored so people can enjoy our nature trails, and it's ballfield season," Hatcher said.

Hatcher said the tender covers the "superficial aspects" of flooding, but the "bigger dynamic is the work that's been undertaken over the last little while to begin to address the severe damage that's taken place in homes."

As part of the town's flood master plan, Hatcher said they estimated a flood like February's would impact 652 homes and cause as much as $29 million in total damage. The provincial government said in April disaster financial assistance, which covers eligible uninsurable losses, would be available for Sussex residents, businesses, and not-for-profits.

A request for comment to the provincial department of justice and public safety was not returned by press time.

Hatcher said people are "way too used" to digging out from flood damage and that "something needs to be done." The town's $38 million flood mitigation proposal, which involves digging diversion channels to relieve the pressure on Trout Creek, was submitted last year for federal approval and is under review.

"We think this last flood really pushed our residents that were affected ... to the edge of extreme frustration," Wilson said, saying there are now a number of near floods every year. "It's gotta be fixed. We've gone on a campaign to fix it, and I think we're getting close."

Applications for disaster financial assistance are open until Aug. 9, and damage can be reported by calling 1-888-298-8555 or by registering online. More information is available at https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/news/public_alerts/report_damages/2024-heavy-rainfall-february.html.

Andrew Bates, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal