Mi’kma’ki / Nova Scotia – The Ecology Action Centre (EAC) held a press conference this morning calling on the Nova Scotia government to take immediate action to fully implement N.S.’s Coastal Protection Act (CPA). The CPA is designed to prevent inappropriate and unsafe development in higher-risk areas along Nova Scotia’s coast. The regulations have been in development for over four years.
“The province’s continued failure to implement the Coastal Protection Act is unacceptable, shortsighted and stunningly irresponsible,” says Will Balser, coastal adaptation coordinator with the EAC. “The legislation under the Coastal Protection Act passed with full support from all parties in 2019. During the 2021 election, in the 2022 Nova Scotia Climate Plan and in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, the current government promised that they would complete and implement the regulations by the end of this year. And yet, as increasingly severe climate impacts put Nova Scotians and their families at risk, the government just keeps dragging their heels. It’s truly baffling.”
The province seemed on track to complete and implement the CPA regulations until August 2023, when they abruptly announced implementation would be pushed till at least 2025. The government justified this delay by citing a need for further public consultations – despite a comprehensive consultation process dating back several years. In October 2023, they released an online survey targeting coastal landowners.
“The EAC believes strongly in public consultation,” explains Marla MacLeod, director of programs with the EAC. “But this survey is an absolute mockery of it. The questions are not only too broad and often leading, but they also cover information that has been obtained previously though extensive consultation and studies. At this point it is hard to see this as anything more than yet another delay tactic from a government that seems wholly unwilling to do their job.”
The province has stated that while municipalities wait for the CPA to be implemented, they could pass their own bylaws in the meantime. Balser says that this puts unfair pressure on municipalities.
“This is a clear indication that the province is content to offload their responsibilities on the matter,” says Balser. “Municipalities will be stuck filling in the gaps and burdened with the labour and financial costs of legislation that should have been finished years ago.”
The EAC and community partners gathered at the harbour stairs behind the Queen’s Marque on the Halifax Waterfront to express their frustration over the continued delay – a location that Balser sees as a fitting metaphor for the consequences of failing to protect N.S.’s coastal communities.
“These stairs running into the ocean are a fitting representation of the government’s inaction,” says Balser. “We’re in a climate emergency, and Nova Scotia has the highest sea-level rise predictions in the country. The Houston government is practically inviting the ocean straight into our homes. The delays, unnecessary consultations and allowance of reckless development are a waste of taxpayer dollars and are a failure to take the very first and most basic step in coastal climate adaptation: stop building in known risk areas.”