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Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Part 2: Lorne Street Naturalized Stormwater Retention Pond in Sackville, New Brunswick

A large pond on a sunny with greenery in the foreground. There is an island with trees in the middle of the pond, and buildings can be seen in the background.
Julia Szujo

September 7, 2023

Part 2 of the climate change adaptation and resilience blog post series puts theory into practice by examining the interconnectedness of adaptation and resilience. Part 1 discussed the synergies between adaptation and resilience in linking ecosystems, biodiversity, community wellbeing, governance, and policies. To further demonstrate the connection between the adaptation and resilience, let’s look at the naturalized stormwater retention pond on Lorne Street in Sackville, New Brunswick as a case study.

Sackville has long been challenged by floods due to its location with high tidal cycles, storm surges, and sea level rise. In 2019, the municipality embarked on its first green infrastructure project of this size, the Lorne Street Naturalized Stormwater Management Pond. Flooding affected the Lorne Street area, its businesses and residents so seriously that economic growth became limited. The pond was developed in different phases in 2019. Construction cost $6 million, which was spread throughout multiple sub-phrases.

What are naturalized stormwater retention ponds?

Naturalized stormwater retention ponds are living ecosystems designed to improve watershed health through natural processes, and are alternatives to engineered stormwater management solutions. They are green infrastructure and nature-based solutions that absorb stormwater in urban areas. Some of their benefits include:

  • Protecting and/or restoring natural infiltration capacity of a watershed
  • Increased water supply service
  • Improved drought protection
  • Resilient water supply 
  • Enhanced neighbourhood appearance
  • Support cohesion and ownership
  • Educational and recreational opportunities
  • More cost-effective over its life cycle than gray infrastructure

While having infrastructure and environmental advantages, naturalized stormwater retention ponds also foster community cohesion and economic viability. Having a holistic approach to these concepts is key to successfully responding to the various challenges posed by a changing climate.

Adaptation and resilience through the Pond

The Pond helps Sackville and the community become more resilient to climate change in several ways. It stores about 40,000 cubic feet of stormwater, which gets slowly released into the Tantramar River through existing infrastructure. This effective management of stormwater curbs flooding risks and promotes adaptation. By storing and slowly releasing stormwater, the pond helps prevent the existing infrastructure from becoming overwhelmed and reduces the risk of flooding, making the area more resilient.The Pond is also low maintenance and offers long-term protection from the effects of climate change, while building the area’s resiliency to heavy rainfalls and rising sea levels.

The Pond has also turned into a home for native plant and wildlife species. It has a small island, exclusively for wildlife and vegetation, not accessible by foot. The island functions as a safe place for species by protecting them from extreme events and creating space to maintain their populations. The increased biodiversity in the area supports ecosystem resilience, which helps species have more capacity to respond to disturbances and adjust to new circumstances.

Catalyzing future actions

By addressing multiple issues through this stormwater management project, opportunities for co-benefits arose. Beyond its ecological role, the trail around the pond is well-used by locals for recreation. This feature not only promotes physical well-being but also adds a layer of community engagement and connection.

A strong community bond is essential to cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change. It lays the foundation for the development of community resilience networks. The collaborative involvement of community members and care for biodiversity foster a culture of shared responsibility that can catalyze future action. This approach also helps to shift the understanding and design of adaptation from one-time projects to an ongoing process that is collaborative, comprehensive, innovative, and responsive to changing needs.

This holistic approach, which supports biodiversity, strengthens community relationships, and nurtures a sense of shared responsibility, shows how adaptation initiatives can go beyond their initial goals. It also highlights the interconnectedness of adaptation and resilience and emphasizes that adaptation is a process. Such initiatives can catalyze collaboration, innovation, and future actions. This holistic perspective benefits the community today and lays the foundation for future adaptation and resilience. As former Sackville CAO, Jamie Burke, put it: “A lot of it is about communicating and communicating the need and the intended solution very clearly to decision makers, to the regulators, and to residents.” This dialogue and engagement are critical components of the process of adaptation and resilience.

References

American Planning Association (2023). Green Stormwater Infrastructure. Retrieved from https://www.planning.org/knowledgebase/greenstormwater/

CLIMAtlantic (2023). Adapting to Climate Change/S’adapter aux changements climatiques – Atlantic Canada atlantique. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pP2pr-ZSMY&t=367s 

Government of New Brunswick (2023). Community Capacity and Resilience. Retrieved from https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/public-safety/publicsafety/content/community-capacity-and-resiliency.html 

Natural and Nature-Based Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (2020). Lorne Street Naturalized Stormwater Management Pond. Retrieved from https://www.naturalinfrastructurenb.ca/case-studies/virtual-site-tours/lorne-street-naturalized-stormwater-management-pond/ 

Nature Canada (2021). 6 Ways Nature-Based Climate Solutions are Tackling Climate Change in Canada. Retrieved from https://naturecanada.ca/news/blog/6-ways-nature-based-climate-solutions-are-tackling-climate-change-in-canada/ 

Town of Sackville (2017). Lorne Street Reconstruction and Stormwater Mitigation – Phase 2 EIA Registration Document. Retrieved from https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/env/pdf/EIA-EIE/Registrations-Engegistrements/documents/EIARegistration1476/EIARegistration1476.pdf 

Wade, L. (n.d.) Green Infrastructure Naturalized Storm Water Ponds. Ducks Unlimited Canada & Rescue Our Wetlands. Retrieved from https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/env/pdf/Climate-Climatiques/Presentations/LewisE.pdf

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