HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia government is asking the province’s Court of Appeal to determine who has jurisdiction over the works that protect a vital link between the province and New Brunswick.
In a court document filed Wednesday, lawyers for the Nova Scotia attorney general ask whether infrastructure protecting “interprovincial transportation, trade and communication links across the Chignecto Isthmus” fall under the exclusive legislative authority of Parliament.
Experts say the isthmus linking Nova Scotia and New Brunswick faces erosion from a combination of high tides and rising water levels, which could sever vital transportation and utility links between the provinces.
The soaring cost of proposed work to shore up the existing dike system and protect the area from flooding was pegged at $650 million this week by New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.
The federal government has offered to pay up to half the cost through its Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, but Higgs and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston argue Ottawa should cover the entire cost.
Benjamin Perryman, assistant professor of law at the University of New Brunswick, said constitutional references of this sort are uncommon, and he would not comment on Nova Scotia’s chances of success.
“The trend over the past 50 years, at least, has been towards recognizing that in some areas, there is overlapping or shared jurisdiction,” he said. For example, Perryman noted that federal and provincial governments each have jurisdiction over aspects of transportation.
It could take the court several months to decide the issue, he predicted.
Feature image by iStock.com/DNY59