Almost $40M committed to keep floodwaters at bay in Sussex

Ron Baird said he'll be able to sleep again now that more government funding has been announced to help prevent flooding in Sussex.

The local business owner said he's spent almost $600,000 paying for repairs from flood damage. Baird said his residence and his two businesses on Main Street in downtown Sussex have flooded four times.

The federal government announced $15.3 million in funding on Monday, along with more than $13 million committed from the province and $10.3 million from the Town of Sussex for a flood mitigation project.

"It brings a lot of relief for me because I know there is an end of the tunnel now," Baird said after the funding announcement in Sussex.

Sussex resident Ron Baird says his properties have been flood four times.
Sussex resident Ron Baird says his properties have been flooded four times. (Rhythm Rathi/CBC)

Baird said people in the area continuously monitor rain levels and start preparing for flash floods every rain storm. He said the fear of flooding has led to many "long sleepless nights" for people for a number of years.

The funding has helped the municipality reach its goal of more than $38 million to build a flow-diversion channel at the town's eastern limits, another such channel on Parsons Brook and storm-water infrastructure upgrades in the town's northeast and northwest corners, including two overpasses and a new berm.

The first project in the plan — a $1.2-million berm behind Gateway Mall — was completed in 2019, the CBC previously reported.

Residents pump out water last Thursday at a home just off Stewart Ave.
Residents pump out water at a home in Sussex after a major flood. (Julia Wright/CBC )

The town's flood-risk mitigation plan was developed in discussions with Sussex Corner in 2022.

After historic flooding in 2014, 2019, 2020, 2022 and early 2024, the municipality had requested funding to tackle the recurring problem.

Thorne said he is happy to see things on paper "start immediately."

He said it will take three-to-five years to get all the infrastructure built but the environmental impact studies and design work will start immediately.

"I know that there are many citizens who have been impacted the hardest, that wish it could be fixed today, so I think that their reactions are going to be mixed," Thorne said.

"I think that they are going to be very hopeful, at the same time, I know that until the actual project is executed, each and every time there is a heavy rain in the winter, they will be concerned."

Both Thorne and Tammy Scott-Wallace, New Brunswick's minister of tourism, heritage and culture, said they have had to deal with flooding themselves.

"I am over the moon to be here today," Scott-Wallace said, noting that Sussex is her home and the funding is important for her family, as well.

"Let's get started and fix this problem once and for all," she said.