Trudeau vows to build more resilient infrastructure

Storm ‘churned up’ sea floor and eroded P.E.I. coastline, Canadian Space Agency finds

This article was written by Hina Alam and was published in the Toronto Star on September 28, 2022.

Top: A satellite image of Prince Edward Island on Aug. 21. Bottom: A satellite image of P.E.I. on Sunday, a day after post-tropical storm Fiona landed. Huge underwater plumes of sand and soil can be seen extending far offshore.

‘‘ Those loose sand dunes, if they keep washing away, there’s going to be a wide-open hole there for the ocean to come right through. We have to save them first. MARVIN GRAHAM OWNER OF GRAHAM’S DEEP SEA FISHING IN STANLEY BRIDGE, P. E. I.

STANLEY BRIDGE, P. E. I. Justin Trudeau travelled Tuesday to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, where he pledged to find ways to build more resilient infrastructure after inspecting the extensive damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona.

“There’s always lessons to be learned,” the prime minister told reporters in Stanley Bridge, P.E.I., where a massive storm surge and hurricane-force winds upended buildings and tossed fishing boats onto the shore.

“Unfortunately, the reality with climate change is that there’s going to be more extreme weather events. We’re going to have to think about how to make sure we’re ready for whatever comes at us.”

On Saturday morning, Fiona left a trail of destruction across a wide swath of Atlantic Canada, stretching from Nova Scotia’s eastern mainland to Cape Breton, P.E.I. and southwestern Newfoundland.

Power was knocked out, scores of homes were flattened, roads were washed out and the resulting cleanup is expected to take months if not years to complete. As well, the record-breaking storm is being blamed for two deaths — one in Newfoundland and Labrador and the other in Nova Scotia.

Thousands of homes and businesses were still without electricity by late Tuesday afternoon — more than122,000 of them in Nova Scotia and about 61,000 in P.E.I.

When asked if it was time for Ottawa to invest more in burying overhead power lines, Trudeau said: “We’re looking at ways of building more resilient infrastructure.”

Marvin Graham, owner of Graham’s Deep Sea Fishing in Stanley Bridge, said Trudeau asked him how much the storm would cost in terms of lost business, considering his fishing boat had been lifted out of the water and dumped on the town’s wharf.

Graham said it was too early to tell and he told Trudeau that something had to be done about recurring storm surges battering the coastline.

“Those loose sand dunes, if they keep washing away, there’s going to be a wide-open hole there for the ocean to come right through,” Graham said. “We have to save them first.”

On Tuesday, the Canadian Space Agency posted two satellite photos of P.E.I., one taken on Aug. 21, the other on Sunday, a day after Fiona lashed the island.

The second photo shows the blue waters around the Island streaked by huge underwater plumes of sand and soil extending far offshore.

The agency posted a tweet saying the photos illustrate “the extent to which the extreme wind and wave action of the storm has churned up the sea floor and eroded the coastline.”

Jennifer Stewart, external relations manager with Parks Canada in P.E.I., said the storm has caused the most severe coastal erosion she’s seen since she began her career in 2000. The erosion is particularly significant at Dalvay Beach, she said, where dune systems used to block the view of the water from the nearby roadway.

“There was a dune system. It’s completely gone, and now the road is eroding away,” Stewart said. “It is shocking. It completely changed the look of the landscape in this area.”

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said damage to the economy is coming into focus, especially when it comes to the farming sector, which has reported huge setbacks for those who grow potatoes, soybeans, apples and feed corn.

As well, the premier said many dairy barns, fishing boats and potato storage buildings had been damaged or destroyed. And he cited extensive damage reported by mussel and oyster farms.

“We’ve been hit by something bigger than we’ve ever been hit with before,” King told a news conference. “We’re all feeling the effects of that. We’re all very fragile.”

In Ottawa, Defence Minister Anita Anand confirmed there are now about 300 military members assisting with recovery efforts in Atlantic Canada, with Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland each getting 100 troops. Anand said the military is mobilizing another 150 troops in Nova Scotia and 150 for Newfoundland.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said 13 Indigenous communities had been affected by the storm, and that local authorities are now scrambling to ensure they have enough food and fuel.

Author: Ray Nakano

Ray is a retired, third generation Japanese Canadian born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario along with his 4 younger sisters. He resides in Toronto where he worked for the Ontario Government for 28 years. Ray currently practises in 2 Buddhist traditions: Jodo Shinshu and that of Thich Nhat Hanh. Ray is passionate about climate action and very concerned about our Climate Crisis. He has been actively involved in the ClimateFast group (https://climatefast.ca) for the past 3 years. He works to bring awareness of our Climate Crisis to others. He has created the myclimatechange.home.blog website, for tracking climate-related news articles, reports, and organizations. He is always looking for opportunities through the work of ClimateFast to reach out to communities, politicians, and governments to communicate about our Climate Crisis. He is married and has 2 daughters and 2 grandchildren. He says: “Our world is in dire straits. Doing nothing is not an option. We must do everything we can to create a liveable future for our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations.”

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