Sussex looks to new $1.2M berm to prevent flooding in commercial area

The town of Sussex, N.B., is hoping a new wall will protect some businesses from flooding along the Kennebecasis River. 

A $1.2-million berm is being built behind the mall, directly behind Sobeys. The cost of the project is equally split between the town and the federal government.

That shopping district was hit with "catastrophic" flooding in 2014 when heavy rain and snow melt caused the Kennebecasis River to overflow, according to Sussex Mayor Marc Thorne,

"The berm that we're building today is our first step in what we consider to be a very long-term project to try to rid this community of the flooding that we've been experiencing probably for about the last 10 years," Thorne said.

Gary Moore/CBC

Thorne said Sobeys had to close for a short time because of the flooding and, had there been a few more centimetres, the grocery store would have closed for a year because of the damage. 

Smittys, a family restaurant also in the shopping area, had damages of $600,000 from the same flood.

Thorne said the berm should stop any more flooding in that area. 

Residential concerns

Sussex resident Bev Kyle said she is happy to see that the town is taking action to prevent flooding, but wishes the measures were in the residential part of town.

"I just really worry about the residents a little more than the commercial end of it," Kyle said. "They've got to start some place. I just wish they were starting at the other end [of town]." 

The mayor said he's heard those concerns from residents and said that a bigger solution is coming in the next few years. Those will focus on helping flood-prone neighbourhoods.

"That's going to involve, what we believe, is a former path of the Trout Creek as it ran through Sussex many millennia ago." He said the town discovered that path after the 2014 flood. 

"And what we're going to try to do is create an alternate path for flood waters when they reach a certain level."

Thorne said that's a more complicated project that will cost up to $20 million.

Construction on the new berm started a few weeks ago and Thorne said it will be finished by the first week of December.