Coastal Policy and Legislation
Nova Scotia is one of the only coastal jurisdictions on the Atlantic coast of North America that does not have coastal legislation. For over a decade the EAC and coastal allies across Nova Scotia have been petitioning for the provincial government to take a leadership role in developing comprehensive legislation for our coast.
During the 2016 Provincial Election, we welcomed the commitment from four political parties to establish and implement a Coastal Protection Act that protects people, properties, and coastal ecosystems across our province! Read our press release, EAC Welcomes Promise of Coastal Protection Act , for more information.
We are now calling on the Provincial government to enact a Coastal Protection Act that will reduce the likelihood of threats to safety and property, minimize the expenditure of public dollars to repair coastal infrastructure, protect sensitive coastal ecosystems, and enhance the buffering capacity of our coasts.
Why Nova Scotia Needs Coastal Legislation:
We are a coastal province. Nova Scotia has over 13, 000 km of coastline and within the coastal zone, many existing and proposed residential, commercial, and industrial developments. With 70% of Nova Scotia’s population living in coastal communities, doesn’t it make sense to encourage development in appropriate places to protect people and infrastructure from coastal climate change hazards and also protect our valuable ecosystems?
Coastal climate change impacts are increasing and they are costly. Sea-level rise, erosion, salt-water intrusion into well water, coastal flooding from storm surges – these are all impacts of a changing climate. Predicted future emissions of greenhouse gases indicates that these impacts are only going to get worse and become more costly. Damaging storms, like Hurricane Juan, that used to occur once in a while are now happening more frequently and with devastating results.
Our coast is invaluable. Nova Scotia’s economy, our way of life, and our cultural heritage are intricately connected to our coastline. We rely on it not only for development, but for recreation, transportation and tourism, for sustaining fisheries, and as a habitat for coastal species. We need to ensure that our coastline continues to protect and nourish us, to employ and entertain us. Only a healthy coast can do this! Acknowledging the many users of our coastal environment and managing the coast in a sustainable way is incredibly important and comprehensive coastal legislation is key in achieving this.
It costs more to repair than it does to prepare. Preparing for climate change, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe storms will not only save us a lot of money but it will also decrease risk to life and infrastructure. United Nations reports show that every dollar invested in pre-emptive climate adaptation can save up to seven dollars in relief and recovery down the road. Hurricane Juan alone resulted in over $100 million in damages. With the frequency of damaging storm events increasing, wouldn’t our provincial money be better spent on investing in pre-emptive adaptation solutions rather than costly relief?
It affects our homes, roads and infrastructure. Poorly regulated and largely unplanned development has resulted in the destruction of ecologically significant coastal habitats. It also leads to construction of homes, roads and other infrastructure that are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, increased flooding, accelerated erosion and storm surges. A comprehensive coastal policy would protect important coastal landscape features and natural functions, preserve public access to the coasts, and reduce the long term costs associated with unregulated development.
For more information about our views on provincial coastal legislation, read “On the Rocks” - our sassy 2010 policy brief about why new coastal regulations are what we need.
"Nova Scotia REALTORS® are very conscientious and aware of how development of any kind impacts the surrounding environment. Whether clients are installing a wharf, adding rocks to stabilize their shorelines, or planting grasses for strength, it's important for them to be aware of the trickle effect of their actions. Property changes can not only impact the integry and value of their property, but the integrity and value of the entire coastline of Nova Scotia. A Coastal Act that protects coastal ecosystems and supports property owners in making sound decisions when it comes to their coastline is not only prudent for current homeowners, but required for future generations of property owners."
- Suzanne Gravelle, Managing Associate Broker, REALTOR®, Century 21 Trident Realty Ltd.
“The stakes are high for Nova Scotia, with dependency on fisheries, tourism, and other livelihoods in small coastal communities. We cannot afford to wait any longer, we need a Coastal Protection Act in Nova Scotia in order to provide consistent and appropriate planning strategies that help us adapt to changes to come.”
- Georgia Klein, Lecturer, Dalhousie University College of Sustainability.
"Living near the ocean in Southwest Nova Scotia, I'm very aware of the changes taking place along the coast - higher tides and storm surges, flooding, erosion, and damage to infrastructure. Nova Scotia needs a Coastal Act that addresses the multiple impacts of climate change while recognizing the important ecological values of coastal habitats."
- Chris Curry, Coastal Resident, Shelburne, Nova Scotia
Where do we stand?
There are a maze of regulations and policies that impact the coast. Click here to link to a table which summarizes governmental responsibilities for coastal management in Nova Scotia.
What we would like to see:
We need comprehensive, defensible, coastal legislation that outlines clear rules for what can and cannot happen in the coastal zone across the entire province. The EAC and allies have developed some proposed elements of a Coastal Protection Act with the overarching goals of:
1. Protecting people and properties from coastal hazards and
2. Protecting coastal ecosystems from inappropriate development
We think a Coastal Protection Act should:
- Reduce the likelihood of threats to personal safety and property from coastal hazards and minimize danger to personnel in emergency and rescue efforts
- Minimize spending of public dollars required to repair coastal hazard damage to public and private property
- Maintain and enhance the buffering capacity of coastal areas to protect inland areas from coastal hazards and intertidal areas from land-based pollution
- Establish a provincial land-use planning framework that is clear, specific, and provides enforceable, provide-wide minimum standards for new development and supports adaptation initiatives for existing infrastructure
- Provide protection for coastal ecosystems and its flora and fauna
- Incorporate the latest scientific and technical data
- Increase clarity and communication around coastal hazards, related regulations, what can and cannot be done, and roles and responsibilities of involved parties
- Be inclusive of all coastal stakeholders, acknowledge strategies and by-laws already in place within municipalities and provide support for municipally-led climate adaptation initiatives
Coastal Policy Resources:
- Nova Scotia Coastal Management Framework 2008
- Nova Scotia State of the Coast Report 2009
- Nova Scotia Climate Change Action Plan 2009
- On The Front Lines: Strategies for Healthy Beaches in Nova Scotia (2009)
- Nova Scotia Draft Coastal Strategy 2011
- New Brunswick Coastal Areas Protection Policy 2002
- Newfoundland and Labrador Coastal and Ocean Management Strategy and Policy Framework 2011
- Prince Edward Island Coastal Property Guide 2016
- East Coast Environmental Law’s “Who Owns the Coast?” from 2010
- Ecology Action Centre’s “On The Rocks” Policy Brief from 2010
- United States Coastal Zone Management Act, initiated in 1972
- United States Coastal Zone Management Program by State
- Researching the Role of Communities in Integrated Coastal Management in Nova Scotia.Joanne Weiss Reid. December 2004
- Coastal Zone Planning in Nova Scotia. Nicole Hynes & Jennifer Graham. Prepared for RCIP Rural Policy Forum February 17-19, 2005
- Coastal Area Management in Nova Scotia: Building Awareness at the Municipal Level. Corey Toews. November 2005
- Navigating the Maze: A Citizen’s Guide to Coastal Action in Nova Scotia
- EAC Comments on Nova Scotia Coastal Strategy
- The Role of Communities, First Nations, Aboriginals and Municipalities in Coastal Management
- Your dream home here? Examples of bad coastal development