By Tina Comeau
Unveiling a sign next to Melbourne Marsh took just a few seconds, but it was representative of the years of work that went into a project that is being lauded as a great partnership between the community and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC).
In the spring of 2010 the future of this freshwater marsh was unknown; two years later on Nov. 21 DUC and the community were celebrating its reopening.
Asked how he felt about the completion of this project, Gren Jones, DUC senior director for the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, summed it up with the word, “thrilled.”
“I’m very proud of what happened here,” he said. “Community members, government partners and businesses put a lot of hard work, support and encouragement into Melbourne. It is a beautiful area for the entire community to cherish and enjoy.”
In 2010 it was determined that the water control structure and culvert under the William Allen Road needed replacing. But at the time the cost of replacement was pegged at around $200,000 and DUC said it couldn’t afford to do the work on its own. This concerned local residents who not only worried about the displacement or waterfowl habitat, but who also highly-valued the marsh for its scenic and recreational value.
With support from Environment Canada, the Province of Nova Scotia, LaFarge, and members of the community, DUC eventually secured the finances it needed to complete the rebuild, which took place earlier this year. This included the complete replacement of the water control structure and the culvert under the road. The work was carried out by R&D Harris Excavating Ltd.
Jones said being able to carry out the work came as a relief.
“I was very concerned when Ducks looked at the overall project (initially) because it was at the end of its lifespan, it was going to be a very expensive rebuild and we, of course, have to careful where we spend our money and how we spend our money,” he said. “But we knew that this was one that was worth preserving. It’s a part of this community.”
Also removed is any concern over the culvert under the road failing, which would have cut off many residents if the road had caved in, not to mention the potential for injury.
“We didn’t want the road to wash out, one of our biggest concerns was the liability of possibly causing huge damage here if the actually culvert under this road disappeared. People depend on this road,” Jones said.
Melbourne resident Mary Roberts played an instrumental role in rallying the community behind the project and pressing DUC to commit to it. Like Jones, she is thrilled the marsh has been protected.
“Melbourne Marsh is such an important part of our community,” said Roberts. “We all really enjoy seeing how much it gets used by ducks and local wildlife. It really enhances the community and we’re happy that it’s going to be around for a long time to come.”