Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia) - Last week, the Nova Scotia government released its What We Heard report for public consultations on regulations for the long-awaited Coastal Protection Act, conducted in 2021. The Ecology Action Centre is pleased with the report, both in terms of Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change’s grasp of the issue and public respondents’ desire for strong protection measures along Nova Scotia’s coastline.
“We feel that Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change has heard and understood our concerns regarding enforcement, implementation and urgency for the upcoming Coastal Protection Act regulations,” says Will Balser, coastal adaptation coordinator with EAC. “We were also encouraged to see that 77 per cent of written submissions agree that the proposed regulations don’t go far enough to protect coastal ecosystems. It's clear that Nova Scotians want stronger protections for our coastlines and the communities that depend on them and government appears to be listening.”
Balser says the report is also a timely reminder of the importance of good building practices along our coast as we approach the 2022 building season.
“Until we have the Coastal Protection Act in effect, it’s up to builders and property owners to follow best practices and ensure any shoreline development is safe. And the best measure to prevent damage to coastal ecosystems and development is to avoid building in low-lying or high-erosion areas and to stay back from the coastline.”
Despite facing the most severe sea level rise predictions in Canada and sitting on the path of increasingly severe hurricanes and tropical storms, Balser says that homeowners and developers continue to make dangerous decisions when it comes to building on the coast.
“These properties are risking coastal erosion, inundation and saltwater intrusion of wells,” explains Balser. “Towns along our coast are already experiencing dramatic climate change impacts with flooding in Liverpool, frightening inundation prediction for towns like Annapolis Royal and accelerated erosion all along the Northumberland Shore.”
As a province with over 13,000 kilometers of coastline and approximately 70 per cent of its population living in coastal communities, Balser stresses the importance of getting the Coastal Protection Act in place as soon as possible.
“Although personal action on the part of homeowners and builders is crucial, what we really need is a strong and effective set of regulations in place immediately to protect coastal ecosystems and property owners,” says Balser. “And until those regulations are in place, it's Nova Scotian taxpayers that will be footing the bill for inappropriate coastal development through disaster relief funds.”