Essex County Council approves funding to ERCA for coastal resilience projects

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Essex County Council has unanimously agreed to a funding commitment for projects being completed by the Essex Region Conservation Authority.

During Wednesday's meeting, council was presented with a report from ERCA asking to approve a funding commitment for $200,000 to help fund two projects in support of the Coastal Resilience Plans, which was unanimously approved.

ERCA will be submitting an application by the end of the year asking for federal grant funding through the Climate-Resilient Coastal Communities Program.

The primary objectives of the funding is looking at efforts among communities at a regional scale to address climate change risks in coastal regions, such as changes in lake levels, coastal erosion, storm surges, and flooding.

The two projects entails the Lake St. Clair Resilience Plan surrounding 44 kilometres of shoreline within Essex County, while the second project is the Lake Erie Resilience Plan, covering 89 kilometres of shoreline within the county.

Joe Bachetti, Deputy Warden for Essex County Council, says the project requires approval for local funding during the application process.

"Both of these projects would be able to bring in a potential up to $2.2-million. And so that ask for the County is a $200,000 to be drawn from the County's rate stabilization reserve funds which would allow ERCA to apply for this federal grant opportunity."

He says the region has faced numerous, intense weather storms the past couple of years. 

"This is all about increasing resilience of our public infrastructure such as the County and municipal roads, to coastal hazards and climate change. This comes at a great time for us to be able to see if we can be successful in that. And in terms of timelines, this has to be in before the end of the year."

He says this funding would be a big help to the surrounding municipalities. 

"The Town of Essex, Colchester, we've had a lot of storms and so this is going to help protect not only our infrastructure, but also the coastal, and that's why they call it the Coastal Resilience Plans that ERCA is already doing."

These projects must have 25 per cent of local matching funds, while the federal funding will cover up to 75 per cent of the project's costs. 

The funds will be drawn from the County's rate stabilization reserve funds, over the term of the projects.

The actual funding contribution is contingent on the approval of each project. If only one project receives CRCC funding approval, partial funding will be required. If no CRCC funding is approved, no required contribution from the County will be necessary.

Bachetti says they won't find out until March 31, 2024 if they have been successful in obtaining the funding.