Funding for Causeway Replacement Confirmed: $61.6 Million
This isn’t a usual entry for the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance website. It isn’t a press release or a report- rather an emotional journaling of what my experience has been with the Petitcodiac River to date. My hope is to express the magnitude of this $61.6 million causeway replacement announcement to you.
I am the Executive Director of the PWA, and my passion for this river runs deep. I was born in 1989- just 21 years after the construction of the causeway was complete. I was not raised believing that the Petitcodiac was a mighty river- in fact, I thought it was quite the opposite. Growing up in view of the estuary, I was not aware that there was any life in the river, and we called the tidal bore a total bore. How could anything live in so much mud? But then I started my undergraduate degree in biology and learned about ecosystems and the close connection of all living things. Then in the summer of my third year, I worked as a field technician for the Petitcodiac Riverkeeper. This is where I witnessed the interface of society and nature. Some of my friends’ parents wouldn’t speak to me because they knew I belonged to the “other” camp… we wanted the causeway gates opened and that was bad for business. That summer was the first time that I had ever been waist deep in the upstream portion of the Petitcodiac where the water is clear and the bottom is cobble. I was astounded by the number and diversity of fish that came to the trap in that first year of restored access, and it became my mission to share this with the rest of our community. This is why the PWA tirelessly uses social media, interviews, and presentation avenues to share the remarkable story of this river that we call home.
Since starting here at the PWA and working full-time on restoring the health of this river, I’ve been exposed to some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I can’t even begin to explain how much motivation and passion our community members have for bringing this river back to its former glory. Just last night, I was at a conservation meeting giving a presentation, and an older gentleman told me that he was going to keep eating his fruits and vegetables to make sure he lived long enough to see the causeway removed. Through tearful eyes, a widow shared her husband’s passion for the river and how pleased she was to see the next generation take the baton in continued stewardship. Through the PWA’s Local Ecological Knowledge Project, our staff have heard countless stories of abundance, recreation, and thriving culture around the Petitcodiac River, and I am so relieved that so many of our biggest supporters will be able to witness the fruits of their decades-long toil on this absolutely momentous day. We stand on the shoulders of giants, and I am forever grateful for those who came before us. Today, the Petitcodiac River will be formally resurrected in the eyes of our government and community. First, with the immense investments in wastewater treatment, and second with even bigger investments in restoration. To those who walked across the causeway holding a casket which read “Petitcodiac RIP”, I hope that we have made you proud.
So may we raise a glass to both our river and our community’s resilience! What was once the most endangered river in the country is now taking leaps and bounds towards recovery, and we will do our best to hang on as its bore gains momentum.