Question Period, 24 November 2015
Full transcript available here.

Tryon River and local construction

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to expand on some questions that opened Question Period today from the Leader of the Opposition. Like him, I was at the Tryon River yesterday during the height of the storm, and like him I saw no government employees working, and certainly no mitigation efforts at all in the area of the worse siltation.

Heavy rainfall in the last few days has led to significant –

Mr. LaVie: Shame, shame!

Dr. Bevan-Baker: – runoff and siltation in the Tryon River, amongst others on the Island.

Last spring engineers with TIR promised fishers in the area that no silt would enter the Tryon River.

A question to the hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy: Does she agree that the devastating siltation that occurred yesterday in the Tryon River is a direct result of the recent construction in that area?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. member, I think you could hopefully agree that there’s no 100% guarantee on when it comes to weather events, and I don’t think there was a 100% guarantee given at the time of construction. However, there was a commitment that every effort would be made to ensure mitigation measures were put in place to protect the surrounding areas. I know that was carried out.

Just to expand a little bit again, the Branch Road area of this particular project is still under completion. Unfortunately, during this period of time is when this rain event has hit, and we will be continuing to finalize the environmental side of that project to ensure that there is proper runoff that will prevent siltation. We had people out around yesterday, not on site. We had people inspecting. You cannot put machines on site to do mitigation measures in the middle of a 100-millimetre rain event.

However, to follow up on that, I drove from Tyne Valley to Charlottetown yesterday and every ditch I came by was running red. So I wouldn’t say that –

Mr. LaVie: Oh, you’re (Indistinct) doing your job –

Ms. Biggar: – it was –

Mr. Aylward: So was the (Indistinct) –

Ms. Biggar: – a one area event. However, anything that we can do to protect the fisheries in Prince Edward Island we certainly will do that.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, first supplementary.

Tryon River siltation compensation to fishers

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, like every other member of this House, has access to weather forecasts. I’m sure the department of transportation also has access to weather forecasts. It was no surprise that yesterday we ended up with 100 millimetres of rain.

Talking of the fisheries on Prince Edward Island and their protection, a million oyster seeds were planted in that river this fall, an annual practice that is carried out to sustain the fishery that supports over 70 families in the Tryon area. By the way ,that gives a daily economic activity of over $30,000 in the local community, $30,000 a day.

Will the government be compensating fishers if this siltation impacts the fishery?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Our particular department works very closely with the oyster industry in providing assurances that they have access to their fishery areas. This particular year we did upgrades to the Hurds Point Road to help them access their fishing area. I work very closely with the PEI Shellfish Association to ensure that they have the funds there as well to provide programs, and we will continue to work with the PEI Shellfish Association and other fisheries for access to their fishing areas.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your second supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I shall tell the two fishers I met with yesterday that I can’t tell them whether they’re going to receive compensation if this is an issue.

River protection standards

Climate change is projected to bring more storms and more extreme precipitation to Atlantic Canada. The situation that we saw yesterday in Tryon is going to become more commonplace as we go into the future. Does this government intend to increase standards for protecting PEI rivers into the future?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As part of this particular project, I think you would agree, if you drove by there when we installed that culvert, you wondered what was going on, but that was a plan for the future for our next 100 years’ events. Part of our mindset in planning our projects is to take in mind climate change, just like I said with the Cascumpec bridge. We’re raising that level as well to accommodate future climate change events that may occur in different areas.

However, that is part-and-parcel of when we do a project, we do go through environmental assessment as part of our whole project assessment, and we will continue to plan any of those projects, keeping in mind – unfortunately, as I noted, this particular project, the final mitigation environmentally had not been able to complete and we will be continuing to finalize that particular project and putting mulch down there which prevent any further runoff over the winter.

 

Leave a Reply