New Venice — After 165 millimetres of rain fell on Sackville, N.B. Sunday night and Monday, “the floating town” has rallied together to put a positive spin on what could have sunk a less-resilient people.
Residents have been battling consistent flooding, closed roads and in many cases the utter destruction of acres of crops. “The fields are like waterbeds,” said one dismayed farmer. “The potatoes are all but ruined for the season. Everything’s drowning.”
Everything but the tourism industry, that is. The town has decided to stop fighting the flooding, and embrace it; as of this morning, town council and a few Tourism New Brunswick reps put it to a unanimous vote to change all the former Sackville signs to say “New Venice” after the famous northeastern Italian city.
Gondolas will be constructed by a local, family-run woodworking business (the town had attempted to sell all gondola rights to a Québec company that offered to make them for about $10 less, but that caused an uproar among many residents and the idea was promptly quashed), and canals will be built to manage to the rising waters.
“Flooding may be be ruining basements and crops, but one thing’s for certain — a Venice-like city right here in New Brunswick has the potential to draw visitors from as far as Fredericton or even Saint John,” said gondolier Brent Peacock while paddling a Manatee reporter around for a tour of the postcard-pretty New Venice. “Maybe one day New Brunswick will be known as the swim-through province rather than the drive-through province.”
But like any change in New Brunswick, not everyone is happy about the rebrand. Some of New Brunswick’s more “local” locals think that a “New Venice” will bring aspects of European culture that they want no part of. “So what? Now we have to eat spaghetti, sing while we cook, and talk with our hands?” said an irate Brian Lauderdale, gesturing wildly with his hands. “Count me out. We have our own culture here in new Brunswick, and we don’t need to add to it. We’re perfect just the way we are.”