Hello to all our loyal readers and supporters. It's been a busy summer, with personal affairs dragging two of us out of the country for a month. But, we're back. And, important events have continued to unfold, both behind the scenes and in public. To summarize:
In March, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Depart of Public Works and Government Services (PWGSC) requested a judgement concerning the ownership of the seawall at Gabarus. FOG has researched this matter extensively, and feels certain it can with a high degree of confidence, answer this question.
However, FOG has consistently adopted the position that “ownership” of the seawall is irrelevant, particularly when, as is the case in the current situation, there are imminent and demonstrable threats to property, livelihoods and community. We believe that Canadians expect government at all levels to assist in protecting and preserving the well being and safety of Canadian citizens and residents, no matter where they live, and no matter who paid for the infrastructure upon which their livelihoods and community survival depend.
Since March, the PWGSC has twice notified us of an impending federal decision. In each case, the anticipated dates came and went with no indication from the feds concerning when a resolution might be expected. We are still waiting a decision from the Department of Justice Attorney General's Office resolving the matter of the ownership of seawall.
If the federal government feels that the ownership issue requires resolution, we respectfully and urgently request that this be put off to a later date, and that it join with the responsible provincial and local agencies to get on with addressing the pressing needs of this community. We are already well into hurricane season, and the North Atlantic winter storm season will be fast on its heels.
An interesting aside. Recent queries to the Office of the Attorney General concerning its pending decision posed by FOG, as well as members of the press, in every case resulted in referrals to DFO. We find this odd. DFO and PWGSC are petitioners to the Office of the AG, seeking its decision in this matter. It is not DFO's decision to make. Why are questions posed to the AG now being directed to DFO for a response? Why not PWGSC as well? It is PWGSC staff and resources that will likely be tasked with implementing a decision. Indeed, why referrals to either of the petitioning agencies? Has this process been ceded to DFO and is no longer in the hands of the AG? We are seeking answers to these and related questions.
In the interim, Provincial and Cape Breton Regional Municipality officials have continued to demonstrate firm support for the community and efforts to obtain support for repair of the seawall.
In April, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources released the final “Coastal Hazard Assessment of the Gabarus Seawall. It provides an analysis of the risks to the seawall posed by climate and human action, and human inaction. Further, it also describes the risks posed to the community of Gabarus and their livelihoods were the seawall to fail. That event would appear to be a matter of “when”, not”if”.
On July 10th, the Chief Engineer of the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) released the follow-up report to their April 17th seawall site visit. The complete report is accessible from this site, so anyone interested may read it for themselves and form their own conclusions.
We think it fair to say that it reinforces the nature and extent of the failings of the structure, the threats posed to it, and the threats the condition of the seawall pose to the community, and the need for an immediate response to address the problem. It provides detailed analyses regarding these issues. It identifies alternative short and long-term solutions, and estimates of the respective costs. It also recommends that an interim solution needs to be implemented no later than September of this year. Both documents may be accessed from this site.
FOG and the residents of Gabarus are grateful for the continued timely support of both Provincial and local levels of government. Recent local and national press coverage and interviews have provided opportunities for FOG to continue to press the case for a speedy commitment of federal resources and support. A number of these have been included on the site. We pledge to further our cause every chance we get, and seek your support and good wishes in these efforts. We will keep you informed of any developments as they happen.
Please follow developments on our Facebook page, which is managed by Heather Hayes, another FOG member. Here's the link.
With sincere appreciation, from of us here in Gabarus, thanks! Together, we are making a difference!
Note: When you click on the menu tabs for the two Provincial documents, they will open in separate windows. They are fairly large, so be patient. It will take a minute for them to load. If you have slow internet access, you may want to download them instead.
If you have any questions or comments , please email:
Friends of Gabarus at: firstname.lastname@example.org.