Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia seeks public input on legislation to protect coastlines

Month-long survey asks Nova Scotians what kind of setbacks are appropriate for development near the water.

Environment department launches month-long survey for feedback on setbacks

Nova Scotia Environment Minister Iain Rankin launched public consultations on future coastal protection legislation during an announcement Tuesday at Black Rock Beach in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's Department of Environment is working on legislation to protect the province's coastline from climate change — and it's looking for public input.

On Tuesday, Environment Minister Iain Rankin announced a new online survey, which will be up for a month.

Among other things, the survey asks Nova Scotians what kind of setbacks are appropriate for development near the water.

According to the consultation document on the Environment Department's website, the new act will have to define a "coastal protection zone," restrict certain activities inside it, and create monitoring and compliance provisions.

"We see a need to ensure that when we're building, that we build homes and cottages and other buildings in areas that have a less potential impact from climate change and rising sea levels," Rankin said. "But first we need to hear from Nova Scotians."

Rankin said his department will also consult with fishery, industry, Indigenous groups and municipalities to get their feedback.

Calls for coastal protection legislation

The Ecology Action Centre has been calling for coastal protection legislation for more than a decade.

Nancy Anningson, the group's coastal adaptation senior co-ordinator, said the policies and practices so far have been failing.

For example, large walls or berms meant to protect communities from surging water tend to do more harm than good over the long term.

Nancy Anningson is the coastal adaptation senior co-ordinator at Halifax's Ecology Action Centre. (CBC)

"You actually negatively impact the area around the sea wall," she said. "It erodes faster. And when you remove the natural vegetation, which has roots and hangs on, and you replace it with a hard-pack grass lawn that you mow to the edge you are accelerating coastal erosion."

Anningson also questions whether taxpayers should be expected to cover the cost of repairing storm-damaged coastal infrastructure that's built along coastlines to service the homes.

Rankin said there is no target date to have the legislation proclaimed.

The online survey went live on the department's website Tuesday and will come down in one month.

Read more stories at CBC Nova Scotia 


Preston Mulligan has been a reporter in the Maritimes for more than 20 years. Along with his reporting gig, he also hosts CBC Radio's Sunday phone-in show, Maritime Connection.