The Ecology Action Centre is calling Nova Scotia's policy on coastal zones dysfunctional in a report that also urges the creation of a department to enforce new rules in the sensitive areas.
Jen Graham, the coastal co-ordinator and author of the recently released report, said it's time for the provincial government to clearly articulate a coastal development vision and erase the long-standing divisions between government departments.
"Right now we have a bunch of squabbling decision-makers that all have one role in decision-making," Graham said.
"But there is not one that can step up and say, 'This is where the decisions are made and the buck stops here.'"
Graham said there is no vision or plan for coastal protection or development.
The Nova Scotia government will hold the last in the most recent series of public consultation meetings on creating a sustainable coastal development policy on Wednesday in Dartmouth.
The Ecology Action Centre released the report "On the Rocks: healing our dysfunctional relationship with the coast" last week. It is being used as the foundation for the group's presentation to the government panel.
The report criticizes the fact there are at least 15 different provincial agencies or departments that share a role in coastal management. With so many different departments, Graham said no single department will take responsibility for stopping inappropriate development, such as if someone wants to build a house on a fragile beach.
The report said the province should create a coastal policy that takes erosion and other natural changes into account.
Once those new rules for coastal development are set, the report states, a single government department must be created that would have authority to enforce them.
"We need to set a really clear goal, a purpose for managing our coast. What is it we are trying to accomplish? And once we have done that, we need to put some regulations in place to make sure it happens," she said.
"We need to put one government department in charge, one place that the public can go to, one place that developers can go to, the one-stop shopping for managing our coasts."