Coastal Protection Act | Ecology Action Centre

Coastal Protection Act

Photo: Simon Ryder-Burbidge

In 2019, The Coastal Protection Act was introduced to the Nova Scotia Legislature – a first for Canada. For more than a decade, we have been working with organizations, coastal community members, and people like you to rally for this important piece of legislation.

Once in place, the Coastal Protection Act will help protect our resilient coastal ecosystems so that they can adapt and protect us. After more than a decade of pressure and activism from our community, we are ecstatic to have a foundation to build from to protect our coasts.

The incoming Coastal Act will:

1. Provide protection for our vital coastal ecosystems.

2. Eliminate inappropriate coastal development to protect people and places.

3. Preserve the dynamic and resilient nature of our coasts to withstand climate change.


There’s more work to be done to protect the natural ecosystems that defend our coasts.

The Coastal Protection Act is now making its way through the legislative process. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that NS Environment will be creating regulations in consultation with Nova Scotians, municipalities and industry.

The Ecology Action Centre is working with the Department of Environment to ensure stricter regulations that will fulfill the commitment to protect our coasts. We’re working with groups across Canada and internationally to have best practices for successfully implementing the Coastal Protection Act.

We will continue to work with the Nova Scotia Environment, pushing for updates and weighing in on direction, offering our support and guidance. We will also be championing the voices of communities across the province, on issues like undersized lots, ensuring that regulations will specifically address these challenges. We know that the Coastal Protection Act will only be as strong as the people who enforce it.


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 indicate 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? 

Coastal Climate Change 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. 


"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. 

“Nova Scotians are already experiencing the impacts of coastal erosion, storm surge and flooding.  A Coastal Protection Act is long overdue in this province and is an essential step towards helping coastal communities decrease their vulnerability and develop effective adaptation strategies to deal with current and future climate change impacts.”

                    -  Dr. Danika van Proosdij, Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Saint Mary’s University.


“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 

Coastal Policy Resources: 


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