Within months of the causeway gates opening, hundreds of thousands of fish migrated successfully to the headwaters of the Petitcodiac, the river channel doubled in width and the nearly extinct Petitcodiac tidal bore began its miraculous recovery. The Fish Recovery Coalition, initially presided by Riverkeeper, began to document the amazing recovery and return of every single fish species that had once inhabited the river’s headwaters, including the rare prehistoric Atlantic Sturgeon and the endangered and unique subspecies of Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon (the subject of an intense restocking effort since 2010). Recreational fishers returned to the headwaters and noticed an immediate and remarkable change. After a 40-year absence from our riverbanks, a new generation of fishing enthusiast was able to reclaim their historic right to cast a line in their nearby waterways and reconnect with this timeless tradition. Tourists began as well to slowly return, this time to witness the miraculous recovery of the Petitcodiac tidal bore.
In June 2013, to celebrate the victory in putting a stop to a proposed $430,000 rock fill project in front of Moncton’s historic Tidal Bore Park, Riverkeeper forwarded through the media an invitation to the community to join them on the riverbank for the arrival of a rare “supermoon” tidal bore, predicted to be the year’s highest bore. To our surprise, over 2000 people showed up and the news of the resurrection of the Petitcodiac River “superbore” began to go viral. Surfers in Halifax, France and California caught the news and within four weeks, travelled to Moncton to become the first in the world to surf the restored Petitcodiac bore. Riverkeeper co-directed, with the City of Moncton’s Tourism Director, an inaugural five-day edition of “superbore surf week,” witnessed by some 30,000 thrilled spectators lined along the riverbank. This historic event received extensive national and international coverage, and videos of the tidal bore surfers were viewed by millions of people worldwide. A tidal bore surfing culture has since taken root in the Petitcodiac.
Final Action (Partial Bridge Construction)
Taking office in September 2010, David Alward’s government was reluctant to implement the final Stage 3 of the Petitcodiac River Restoration Project which required that the province dismantle and replace a 280-metre section of the causeway with a partial bridge – estimated at $40 million. It failed to negotiate and conclude an agreement with the Federal Harper Conservative Government to complete the final Stage 3 of the restoration project, due in large part to the influences of the anti-river restoration lobby within its own ranks. The effects of this decision included:
- Failure to abide by the Environmental Assessment directive to allow for the full restoration of free flow at the Petitcodiac causeway;
- Failure to secure the owed funds from the federal government (estimated at $40 million or more) to complete the project, thereby potentially forcing the Province of New Brunswick to finance the completion of the project on its own;
- Failure to eliminate the flooding risk still posed to the Greater Moncton region by the partially opened Petitcodiac causeway;
- Failure to eliminate the dangerous navigation conditions that are currently affecting this middle section of the river;
- Failure to eliminate the full obstacles to fish passage caused by the extreme turbulence occurring around the gates structure (40 m opening vs. 280 m proposed under Stage 3 Partial Bridge);
- Continued deposits of sediment in the former headpond, impacting landowners (most will be naturally removed once the partial bridge is constructed);
- Cost overruns caused by delays in the commencement of Stage 3;
- Missed economic and social opportunities for the residents and businesses of the Greater Moncton region and the Petitcodiac River valley.
Petitcodiac Riverkeeper continued its efforts, advocating for the eventual removal of the causeway and the construction of a bridge.
Finally, 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. The project, which began in 2017, was expected to be complete in the fall of 2020, but completion got delayed. The bridge was completed in September 2021! Learn more.