This is the story of the remarkable campaign that brought about the restoration of the Petitcodiac River, situated on the Bay of Fundy in the province of New Brunswick. In 1999, the battle to restore free flow to the Petitcodiac by opening the gates of the controversial causeway was entering its fourth decade. The local community was still bitterly divided and elected officials, just as content to leave matters alone, mostly avoided getting involved or tended to side with the more affluent lobby of residents living along the 21 km long artificial headpond, created in 1968 when the Petitcodiac causeway was built. By 2000, massive silt deposits covered 95 percent of the river near the City of Moncton and extended 35 kilometres downstream to Shepody Bay.
Between 1999 and 2010, Riverkeeper set out to reverse the situation by implementing a series of groundbreaking actions in environmental communications and environmental law enforcement. Ultimately, these efforts prevailed, leading to the opening of the gates of the Petitcodiac causeway in April 2010, the end of Canada’s longest environmental battle and the commencement of North America’s largest river restoration project.
Six years later, in 2016, Premier Brian Gallant and Federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced a $61.6 million bridge would be built across the Petitcodiac. Construction beginning in the spring would constitute the final phases of the river’s restoration. The project, which began in 2017, was expected to be complete in the fall of 2020, but completion got delayed. The bridge is currently in construction and expected to be completed in 2021.