Petitcodiac Riverkeeper recently held public dialogues/community meetings to talk about the current state of the Memramcook River Causeway as well as a preliminary assessment of options to repair, modify or remove the infrastructure.
The organization has been calling attention to the deterioration of the Memramcook causeway and the causeway’s impact on the Memramcook River for many years and is committed to working with government, community members and other key stakeholders to prevent further damage.
“The Memramcook River causeway and associated gates and supporting structures were built in 1973 and have been deteriorating from weather conditions and saltwater ever since,” Riverkeeper stated in its report, Preliminary Assessment of Options for the Long-Term Viability of the Memramcook River Causeway. “Over the years, this has altered the natural ecosystem in the 400 km2 watershed and contributed to the elimination of several kilometres of upstream estuary, affecting the tidal range fish migrations and nutrient exchange in the river system.”
The organization has worked with community partners to bring historic wins for the Petitcodiac River — its natural flow is returning, as are fish and habitat. The Memramcook River now faces a similar opportunity to be brought back to life, which will also have a significant impact on the quality of life and economy of its urban and rural communities.
Approximately 40 people attended the Feb 25th, 2020 event in Dorchester and 50 the March 5th, 2020 event in Memramcook which were intended to bring people from the community together and to hear their feedback regarding three possible options for the Memramcook River Causeway:
- Option 1: Status Quo – The Memramcook Causeway is repaired to maintain its function and role on the river. It will require major renovations and continual maintenance through the opening and closing of the gates to allow for control of tide and fish passage. With the status quo option, the impacts to the river and surrounding community remain. The causeway has altered the flow of water, which has had significant negative effects on the surrounding ecosystem.
- Option 2: Partial reconstruction – The Memramcook Causeway is kept and the gates on the Causeway are opened permanently. In this option, the causeway remains but the gates are no longer used to control the flow of water. The free passage of water reduces the large fluctuations in sediment creating a more stable environment for species. With the gates no longer closed, fish are no longer blocked and have free access along the river. The river narrows at the point of the causeway which will continue to affect the flow of water.
- Option 3: Removal – The Memramcook Causeway is removed entirely and a bridge is built in its place to maintain access to communities on both sides of the river. The river is allowed to return to its most natural state and with that, habitat recovery begins. This option is most likely to result in the largest benefits to the river and its surrounding ecosystem.
All community members were strongly in favour of advocating for the third option – replacing the causeway with a bridge. Community members also stressed the importance of repairing and reinforcing dykes, levees and aboiteaux along the river to prevent further flooding. Both communities say they are ready to work with Petitcodiac Riverkeeper. government and all stakeholders to push forward on this request and to establish plans to maximize the environmental, cultural and economic benefits the restoration of the Memramcook River can bring to the region.
- Interested citizens who would like to offer feedback or be kept in the loop for future community discussions and follow-up on this project should contact Krysta Cowling at email@example.com.
- They can also join a Facebook Group on this topic: Memramcook River Restoration.