ENVIRONMENT: Coastal protection consultations begin

Environment Minister Iain Rankin has launched public consultations on future coastal protection legislation. If you live near Nova Scotia's coastline, rely on it for your livelihood, or are concerned about the impact of rising sea levels on coastal communities – it’s time to have your say.

The province is proposing coastal protection legislation with clear rules on what can and cannot be done in areas next to the coast. This will help ensure that new construction happens in places that are less likely to be threatened by coastal erosion, rising sea levels and storm surges.

At the same time, it would ensure that salt marshes, dunes and other coastal features can continue to filter water, shelter birds and sea life, and adapt more naturally to the impact of climate change.

"We know climate change is already having an impact on our sea levels,” Mr. Rankin said in a June 26 announcement. “Our legislation will be designed to protect this important natural asset, while also ensuring the industries and cultures that rely on it can continue to do that for generations to come."

Added Nancy Anningson, coastal adaptation senior coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre: ""The coast is dynamic and has its own ways of adapting and restoring itself. As we face sea-level rise, storm surges, flooding and other climate change impacts, we need to let nature do the work. Dunes, salt marshes and natural vegetation provide buffers to protect us. We need to protect those natural defences."

To provide input, visit novascotia.ca/coast. The consultation will be open until Friday, Aug. 17. Members of the public who do not have access to the internet can request a paper copy by calling 902-424-2547.

Staff will also be holding sessions throughout the summer with municipalities, the Mi'kmaq, fisheries groups and others with a specific interest in the coast.