Nova Scotia

Growing frequency, height of Nova Scotia storm surges worries mayor

The mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality said Liverpool's waterfront parking lot and a nearby street are being flooded more often, and intensifying surges of sea water are creeping into local businesses.

Liverpool's waterfront parking lot and a nearby street are being flooded more often, mayor says

A car sits in sea water up to its wheel wells at a tourist bureau in Liverpool, N.S. on Saturday March 3, 2018. (Ken Veinot/Canadian Press)

Another weekend of storm surges in Nova Scotia has a south shore mayor calling for provincial help to cope with the rising impact of climate change on waterfronts.

The mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality said Liverpool's waterfront parking lot and a nearby street are being flooded more often, and intensifying surges of sea water are creeping into local businesses.

David Dagley, 66, says water has been about a third of a metre above normal levels in recent flooding, causing temporary closures and repeated cleanups of businesses and shops along Water Street in Liverpool.

3 events since Christmas

He said in the 1970s, the routine was one storm surge a year, but there have been three events just since Christmas.

"As far as the flooding in the downtown of Liverpool, it's an issue we've had some internal conversations on, and it's a work in progress.… Funding is a primary concern at this point," he said in an interview.

David Dagley is the mayor of the Region of Queens Municipality. (CBC)

The mayor said the municipality operates on a $19-million budget, and with estimated costs to keep the waters back exceeding $1 million, his community needs help from other levels of government.

"We have some research to do, and we need to secure some funding," he said.

Café cleanups

Linda Smith, the 45-year-old owner of Memories Café on the Liverpool waterfront, said the cleanups have become an exhausting routine for her restaurant since she bought it six years ago.

"Over time we're going to suffer irreparable damage. The salt water comes right into our restaurant and travels through my entire dining room," she said.

"Depending on how quickly I can get in after the flooding starts, my table, my shelving, my counter where I serve customers all get soaked in salt water.… We rush in, clean up and get back to business, but over time it will become something devastating to my small business."

After another weekend of storm surges battering Nova Scotia's south shore, there're rising concerns from some municipal politicians and citizens about the need for help adapting to climate change. (Ken Veinot/Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, seven kilometres south of Liverpool, powerful waves have been battering a coastal causeway at Western Head.

Kenny Veinot, an amateur photographer, took photos of cement blocks being blown down as the waves crash through a barrier.

"The issue was the Transport Department didn't put a foundation under it [the breakwater]. It's on the existing beach rocks.… About two years ago, the blocks started to fall," he said.

Intense, more frequent storms

Jason Hollett, the executive director of the climate change division of the Environment Department, said in an interview that most research indicates increasing frequency and intensity of storm surges can be expected.

The storm surges are being accompanied with sea-level rise, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now expecting an average rise of one metre over the next 80 to 100 years off Canada's East Coast, said Hollett.

Dagley said his community has made it known to the province's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal that the protective barrier along the Western Head causeway needs stabilizing.

"I would anticipate if measures are not taken by the Department of Transport, the sea will eventually breach the road, as it has several years ago," he said.

The storm surge was also causing closures of the coastal Highway 207 just east of Halifax near Lawrencetown Beach over the weekend and on Monday.