ANTIGONISH: Last Thursday, Antigonish Town council hosted an open house, providing residents an opportunity to examine the town’s new flood plain study.

The study which was completed by engineering consultants CBCL Limited took place at an opportune time for the town, Mayor Laurie Boucher told reporters during the open house.

“Because we’re in the process of renewing a complete Municipal Planning Strategy and Land Use By-law, this is going to allow us to include the flood plain mapping in our MPS and LUB,” Boucher said. “The preliminary outcome is there is land that we are able to develop on, there was a change in the flood mapping from the last time it was done to this time, so there is land that’s able to be developed, there’s actually two pieces, one behind Victoria Street and another behind MacLellan.”

In the new flood plain study, the location behind MacLellan Street that’s highlighted as acceptable for development was indicated as under water in a previous flood plain study.

Boucher said it’s still early, but council will receive advice from the Eastern District Planning Commission (EDPC) and will decide where this study fits in their MPS and LUB as to where they’ll allow for new development. It’s all about keeping their residents safe, and not allowing them to build in areas that could potentially be unsafe due to flooding.

“The last study was done quite a while back, that was one reason, another reason is there was a change in the river, it was manually changed, and also there is more up-to-date equipment now to do the flood study,” she said on the motivation behind the new study. “We had two flood studies previously done, and they were conflicting information, so therefore we had to start over with new data, and with the changing of the river, it really showed that there is room to develop within the town still.”

The flood plain study shows what the town has done in the past, really helped to mitigate flooding today, Boucher indicated. It also highlighted a 15 per cent increase in precipitation over the next 31-years to take climate change into consideration and be able to compare the previous study, the new one, and what it could look like in 30-years.

The timing of the town’s new flood plain study doesn’t come at a better time, with flooding events directly downtown in recent years, the open house comes just three weeks after a section of a private driveway off of Cloverville Road in Antigonish County washed away.

Photo by Drake Lowthers — Alexander Wilson, a water resources practice lead with CBCL Limited, points to a section of the newly developed flood plain study for the Town of Antigonish. The study was unveiled to the public during an open house last Thursday at Town Hall.

On July 29, the first wave of employees had left the Peace by Chocolate factory at 5 p.m.. An hour later as more employees were leaving, they noticed the road was beginning to wash-out.

“There was only a thin layer of gravel left on the top. If one of the team members tried to go across, I truly believe the outcome would have been much worse,” Tareq Hadhad, founder and CEO of Peace by Chocolate told The Reporter. “I was really glad none of our employees were injured, everyone was safe, and everyone went home that night.”

Their vehicles were stuck behind, and they were out of business for approximately 36-hours, until the road could be fixed.

“We had shipments going out all across the country from New Brunswick to Ontario and Alberta that we had to cancel and re-negotiate the orders. Our partners have been understanding, and they have supported us,” he said. “As a small business, if we don’t have that solid partnership, we would be losing a lot of out this. It was certainly unexpected, something I have not seen before, and if it had been a little bit darker, none of us would have seen it.”

In February, 2018 a flood trapped 23 cars in the parking lot behind the Antigonish Five to A Dollar store and other Main Street businesses. This was followed by a flash freeze within a matter of minutes.