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Photo: Nova Scotia Government

New coastline protection plan for N.S.

By Kelli Rickard Feb 26, 2024 | 12:01 PM

The government has announced its plan to protect people, homes and nature from climate change along Nova Scotia’s 13,000 kilometres of coastline.

Climate change is causing rising sea levels and stronger storms which can lead to more storm surge flooding and erosion, putting people and properties at risk.

According to a release, the new plan for Climate-Resilient Coastal Communities has 15 actions for property owners, municipalities and the Province.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Timothy Halmon also announced Monday a new navigator service to help coastal property owners understand potential risks from climate change and how to mitigate them.

More than $3-million in funding from the climate plan will support some of the actions, including a $1.6-million investment in municipal flood-line maps.

About 13.1 per cent of Nova Scotia’s coastline is protected now from development inside provincial parks, wilderness areas, nature reserves, national parks, national wildlife areas and in land owned and managed by conservation land trusts and Mi’kmaw organizations.

The government has committed to increasing this percentage as part of its goal to protect 20 per cent of the province’s land and water by 2030.

Government faces criticism over abandoning years of hard work

Monday’s announcement also confirmed that the plan for Climate-Resilient Coastal Communities is being implemented instead of the Coastal Protection Act which the government has been pursuing for over 3 years.

Ecology Action Centre President Marla MacLeod says all the work that’s gone into the Coastal Protection Act is now being thrown out and replaced with what she characterized as an “education program”.

“I was absolutely shocked and appalled, this is basically the worst-case possible with the government essentially abdicating any of their responsibility and putting it on individuals and municipalities,” said MacLeod.

Prior to the government announcing it’s plans for the Coastal Protection Act MacLeod says many municipalities were at work drafting their own rules for coastal protection. She says after it was announced much of that work stopped in anticipation of the provincial legislation. “They could have been doing their own things this whole time, so we’ve essentially put ourselves a decade behind by taking this issue back to the municipal level,”.

Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities also released a statement on the news, indicating that while they appreciate the new resources being offered they were too anticipating a fulsome Coastal Protection Act.

While NSFM recognizes the government’s new approach as a replacement for the Coastal Protection Act, which will not advance at this time, the Federation expresses disappointment in the shift away from a comprehensive and uniform provincial strategy.

-NSFM Statement

Both the NSFM and Ecology Action Centre have indicated they will continue to push for comprehensive provincial coastal protection following Monday’s announcement.