Tender issued for first projects to upgrade Annapolis Valley dikes

Danika Van Proosdij looks out over a salt marsh near Windsor, N.S. She has studied the vulnerability of dikes along the Bay of Fundy for almost three decades. (Moira Donovan/CBC - image credit)

After years of planning, the first tender has been issued for work to upgrade three parts of the dikeland system in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.

Topping up the existing dikeland will help guard the areas from the impacts of climate change through increased strength and height, said Kevin Bekkers, director of strategic initiatives with the province's Public Works Department.

"It's making them taller and wider and stronger," he said.

The request for proposals, which closes July 3, calls for work on three projects:

  • A 3.16-kilometre upgrade in the Dentiballis Marsh.

  • A 2.90-kilometre upgrade in the Queen Anne Marsh.

  • A 0.54-kilometre upgrade in the Allains River Marsh.

Guarding against climate change effects

Some of the work will also include adding armour stone on the seaward side of certain sections of the dikes for added coastal protection. That will include improving the stability of some of the dikes and increasing support near some aboiteau locations to protect against erosion.

Scientists have previously said that without interventions, a major tidal surge from the Bay of Fundy could top about 70 per cent of the dikes in the province, which were created to protect rich agricultural areas and communities.

The three projects included in the tender are the first to be readied for construction following an announcement in 2019 of plans for 16 projects to upgrade dikeland in the Annapolis River, Southern Bight, Cumberland Basin and along Cobequid Bay.

Since the announcement five years ago, Bekkers said planning work has focused on First Nations consultation, meeting with landowners, design work and obtaining regulatory permits and approvals from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Final design work on the remaining projects is happening now and tender calls will be scheduled as subsequent projects are ready, he said.

The aim is for the initial contract to be awarded sometime in August or September. The construction work is expected to take about a year to complete.

When the plan to build up and reinforce the dike systems was first announced, it was anticipated it would take about nine years and cost around $50 million to complete everything.

Bekkers said the results of last week's request for proposals would be an indicator of whether those numbers continue to hold true, keeping in mind that construction costs have been on a sharp increase in recent years.

"We're anxiously awaiting those tender results to see where we are with those costs."