N.B., N.S. formalize partnership on Chignecto Isthmus work

The governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have signed an agreement for how they will work together on the early planning stages required in the lead up to the upgrade of the Chignecto Isthmus.The memorandum of understanding was announced through an order-in-council in Nova Scotia and affirms the intention for the two governments to co-ordinate the work when it’s feasible and in the public interest.That includes a steering committee to oversee the work, communications about the project, and First Nations consultations.A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia government said the document formalizes work that was already underway, including studying the impact of water movement in the area, procuring project-management services for early work, as well as engaging with other levels of government, academics and other partners.All of this is leading up to the massive construction project to upgrade and strengthen the dyke system that protects the stretch of land connecting Nova Scotia to the rest of Canada. That work is necessary to protect the area from the threats of climate change, including sea level rise and storms that are increasing in terms of frequency and severity.MOU separate from constitutional questionAlong with the Trans-Canada Highway, the land includes the rail link between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and infrastructure for fibre optics and electrical transmission lines owned by New Brunswick Power and Nova Scotia Power.When the construction work begins, it’s expected to take 10 years and could cost at least $400 million.It’s estimated that $100 million worth of trade crosses the Chignecto Isthmus every day.The Chignecto Isthmus is the piece of land connecting Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. (CBC News)The memorandum of understanding between the two provinces is separate from the constitutional reference case the Nova Scotia government has brought before the province’s Court of Appeal.The province wants the court to rule on whether the dykes — which protect interprovincial transportation, trade and communication links — fall within the exclusive legislative authority of Parliament.The provinces want that question settled because although the federal government has said it would cover half the project’s cost with the other half falling to the governments of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, the premiers of the two provinces have argued that Ottawa should be responsible for the full expense.Politicians for both provinces have said they will not allow the court case to delay starting work on the project, and so the two efforts are happening in tandem.Nova Scotia’s deputy minister of public works said last fall that a construction plan and corresponding tenders could be ready by November of this year.

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