July 10th, 2019

Liberals not addressing climate change in bridge maintenance plan

HALIFAX -- MLAs at today’s Public Account Committee were told that cost estimates for addressing the bridge infrastructure deficit do not account for added maintenance due to climate change. The province needs to spend approximately $2.1 billion over the next 10 years to address bridge infrastructure, more than four times as much as it currently spends.

“We know that the most likely and most catastrophic impacts of climate change will be in coastal communities like Nova Scotia. Why is the Liberal government waiting for problems to occur instead of preparing for climate change now?” said Susan Leblanc, NDP Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal spokesperson, and NDP member of the committee. “Spending smart now helps avoid having to spend more money down the road.”

While new bridges are being constructed to withstand the effects of climate change, according to officials with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal the current cost estimates for bridge maintenance do not consider the possibility of increases in extreme weather, flooding, or other climate change impacts.

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Deputy Minister Paul LaFleche told the committee that Nova Scotia’s current climate is very hard on bridges because of our freeze/thaw cycles in the winter. As our climate continues to change these issues will only get worse.

“When it comes to climate change the Liberals are dropping the ball and punting the issue to people down the line,” said Lisa Roberts, NDP Public Accounts Committee member. “Flooding and storms will impact infrastructure in this province. We want to see evidence that the government is planning for those costs and working to avoid some of the worst impacts.”