The Coastal Protection Act was passed in March 2019 to set out clear rules for Nova Scotia’s 13,000 kilometres of coastline. The province is now working to develop regulations and is consulting on the ideas that will form those regulations.
“Coastal erosion and sea-level rise are major concerns in communities across Nova Scotia,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving. “We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change on our infrastructure, homes and businesses. This legislation will help us ensure that future construction on our coastlines is built in safe places and avoids unnecessary damage to sensitive coastal ecosystems.”
Nova Scotia’s coastline has many different coastal ecosystems and erosion risks, depending on the exposure to the ocean’s waves, the shape of the shoreline, and what the coastline is made of in different parts of the province.
“The Coastal Protection Act is a crucial step to protect our citizens and our coastal ecosystems in the face of climate change,” said Nancy Anningson, coastal adaptation senior coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre. “Setting provincial regulations to keep people from building in dangerous places is the best thing Nova Scotia can do in our work on adaptation to coastal climate change. The smartest, safest, and most financially responsible thing that we can do is to stop building more at-risk structures.”
The documents under consultation set out the coastal protection zone and what requirements would need to be met to build in it. Anyone who wants to build in this zone would be required to hire a designated professional, such as a geoscientist, an engineer, or a surveyor before they apply for a building permit. The designated professional would assess the erosion risk of the property and determine how far back from the shoreline construction must be. The regulations for the Coastal Protection Act would also set rules for how far above the water construction needs to be.
The legislation and regulations would not impact existing coastal homes and buildings unless the owner intends to expand or rebuild.
Consultation began on July 15, 2021. They will continue until September 17, 2021. Nova Scotians can see the documents and share their feedback here.
“A great deal of our downtown is close to sea level, so we know how important and how urgent the issues are,” said Wendy Donovan, mayor of the Town of Wolfville. “Having a clear and consistent set of rules to follow will help businesses and residents determine where it’s safe to build on our coastlines. I’m looking forward to reviewing the draft regulations in detail and providing our feedback.”