CARP White Logo
NS Coastal Protection

Nova Scotia Coastal Protection

November 6, 2023 5545 Stanley Place Halifax, NS B3K2E8 Honourable Tim Halman Department of Environment and Climate Change PO Box 442 Halifax, NS B3J 2P8

NS Coastal Protection

November 6, 2023

5545 Stanley Place

Halifax, NS B3K2E8

Honourable Tim Halman

Department of Environment and Climate Change

PO Box 442

Halifax, NS B3J 2P8

Re: Nova Scotia’s Coastal Protection Act Consultation

Dear Minister Halman:

As Chair of the Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP NS), I am forwarding comments in response to the above-referenced consultation process.

CARP NS recognizes Nova Scotia’s coastline as our province’s most distinguishing natural feature and most prominent natural capital asset. As such, the coastline predominates Nova Scotia’s image, reality and appeal as a place to live, work, invest and conduct business, and as an attractive destination for tourism. CARP NS therefore urges government to place the highest possible priority on the timely implementation of the Coastal Protection Act.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer comment and recommendation on behalf of CARP NS.

On another matter, I am advised that, as a side conversation at the October 10th announcement at Maskwa regarding funding for protected areas, Dale Smith of our Environment Committee discussed with Deputy Minister MacEachern our interest in arranging a follow-up to our group’s initial meeting with you on July 11th.   As indicated previously, we found the July meeting very useful and encouraging, and are looking forward to an opportunity to meet again, particularly in light of the many important environmental issues and priorities that currently are under review.

Yours truly,

Ron Swan
Chair, CARP Nova Scotia Chapter


The Nova Scotia Chapter of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP NS) welcomes the opportunity to submit comments on Bill No. 106, An Act Respecting Coastal Protection in Nova Scotia.

Although having passed in the provincial legislature with all-party support and having been assented to by the Lieutenant Governor on April 12, 2019, almost 5 years ago, this legislation has yet to be brought into full force through proclamation and establishment of regulations as needed for implementation. The delay in implementing Bill 106 is the most recent in a succession of delays over the past several decades in moving forward with coastal protection measures, and a significant concern to CARP NS in light of the iconic nature of our coastline – environmentally, culturally, socially and economically.

But for the tenuous link with the rest of North America provided by the 21-kilometer Isthmus of Chignecto, Nova Scotia is surrounded by the sea. As a consequence, its coastal perimeter is exposed to flooding and erosion caused by rising sea levels and storm surges, with impacts being too-often exacerbated by poor choices about the nature and location of human activities and built structures in sensitive and vulnerable seaside settings.

Implementation of the Coastal Protection Act therefore should be a first-order priority of government.

 Background and Context

Nova Scotia’s coastline is widely recognized as our province’s most distinguishing natural feature and most predominant natural capital asset.  Yet, responsible protection and management of coastal areas is neither directed nor guided by comprehensive and coherent policies, plans or regulations.

Our coastline, including coastal islands, estuaries and tidal rivers, is estimated at 13,300 kilometers in length.  Our cities and major towns are situated on or near the ocean shoreline, much of the province’s population resides within a relatively narrow band paralleling its coastal perimeter, and no place in Nova Scotia is more than 60 kilometers from the ocean. Nova Scotia’s regions are defined in terms of their shorelines – the Northumberland Shore, the Fundy Shore, the French Shore, the South Shore, the Eastern Shore and Cape Breton, the latter an island region surrounded by water.

Nova Scotia’s economy therefore is tied closely to the sea – fishing, shipping and trading, the navy and defense, off-shore oil and gas, ocean-oriented research, and tourism.  In recent years, aquaculture, tidal power and off-shore wind energy have emerged as potentially important new contributors.

Nova Scotians gravitate to the shore for recreation – to swim, sunbathe, ‘hang out’ at the beach, dig clams, rock hound, hike scenic headlands, camp, surf, kayak, scuba dive, sail and cruise. And

the Province’s tourism marketing campaigns highlight the seacoast as our most significant attraction – ‘Canada’s Ocean Playground’, ‘So Much to Sea’, and ‘Shaped by the Sea’.

Clearly, Nova Scotia’s reality, image and appeal as a place to live, work, invest and conduct business, and as an attractive destination for tourism, derives primarily from its coastal nature and its influence on our collective lives.

It is therefore perplexing that successive provincial governments, regardless of political stripe, simply have fallen short in providing leadership in the development of policies and plans to ensure valued coastal assets will be maintained and used sustainably for the benefit of present and future generations.

Over the years, the Province has made a number attempts to develop a coastal zone legislation, policy or plans to protect  both  the coast as a complex and dynamic natural system  and  coastal landowners and developers, essentially from themselves, who covet dramatic and scenic seaside settings that are vulnerable and unstable. The current initiative, passed almost 5 years ago and not yet implemented, is now undergoing its third round of public consultation – and, while government procrastinates in the face of competing stakeholder interests and pressures, more and more questionable development has continued, permitted by outdated and inadequate land use regulations.

Under the umbrella of these delays, we understand, anecdotally, that development has been (and will continue to be) aggressively pursued in efforts to get permits for structures and activities that would not have been approved had the pending, but delayed, legislation and regulations been in place. Undeniably, coastal protection legislation and regulations are needed on an urgent basis.


The purpose of the Coastal Protection Act, as set out in Section 2, is to protect the Province’s coast for future generations by preventing development and activity in locations adjacent to the coast that:

  • damage the environment by interfering with the natural dynamic and shifting nature of the coast; or
  • put residences or buildings at risk of damage or destruction from sea-level rise, coastal flooding, storm surges and coastal erosion.

CARP NS is supportive of this statement of purpose, the accompanying principles upon which the legislation is based (Section 7) and, in the main, with the accompanying provisions in the balance of the legislation – subject to the recommendations that follow.

 CARP NS  Recommendations

CARP NS is convinced that the significance and sensitivity of Nova Scotia’s coastline merits serious attention and decisive action.

•  The Province should place a high priority on the implementation of the Coastal

Protection Act, and take targeted and decisive action(s) accordingly.

•  A particular and immediate priority should be directed at defining and delineating the

Coastal Protection Zone and enacting applicable regulations.

•   The coastal zone should be defined and delineated based on natural features, habitats and systems and not on arbitrary criteria such as lateral setbacks from the mean high- water mark or elevations relative to mean high water level.

•   Where further delay may be unavoidable (for example, in the delineation of the Coastal Protection Zone or in the creation of certain regulations), consideration should be given to the placement of a moratorium on permitting further development with the coastal zone area (even if defined arbitrarily on an interim basis until the formal Coastal Protection Zone is finally delineated).

•   Furthermore, recognizing the significance and urgency of issues associated with coastal protection in light of continuing (and possibly accelerating) development pressures while the coastal protection legislation remains effectively in limbo, consideration should be given to placing temporary holds on permits that have been issued but have not yet led to on-site development work and even to issuance of stop- work orders on permitted work that is clearly incompatible with the spirit and purpose of the coastal protection legislation and regulations. In exceptional circumstances, provision could be made for the reaffirmation or retraction of approvals based on on- site assessment and recommendation provided by a qualified designated professional.

•   Consideration should be given to integrating the delineated Coastal Protection Zone into provincial and municipal land use planning policy and by-laws which, in themselves, require review and updating to reflect and respond to 21st century realities associated with climate change, biodiversity loss and accelerated development pressures driven by unprecedented population growth in recent years.

•   An education campaign is recommended to advise landowners, and Nova Scotians generally, of the Coastal Protection Act and its provisions and of the need for science- based professional assessment and advice regarding coastal zone management and protection.

 Questionnaire  Responses

Selected questions from the questionnaire provided as part of the public consultation process are repeated below (in brown type/italics), with CARP NS’s responses following immediately and highlighted in bold type.

Thinking about coastal properties, do you think Nova Scotia needs new laws or rules (also called regulations) to make sure any new buildings or big renovations are protected from coastal erosion, coastal flooding and rising sea levels? For example, having to build homes/cottages/other buildings or structures further back from the ocean or higher up. Why or why not?’

CARP NS supports new laws/rules to limit  both  the damage caused to the coastal landscape as a result of sea level rise, coastal flooding and erosion and of human activity and  the impacts of such damage on property owners, the municipal and provincial levels of government and the insurance industry – essentially on all Nova Scotians, one way or another.

‘If you think new rules are needed to protect new buildings on private property by the ocean from coastal erosion, coastal flooding or sea level rise, who should decide what those rules will be (for example, the property owner, insurance industry, local municipal governments, the provincial government, other)?’

CARP NS, recognizing the importance of Nova Scotia’s coastline as an iconic provincial natural capital asset, supports the Province taking leadership responsibility in the development of much-needed and overdue new rules, in consultation and collaboration with property owners, municipalities and the Nova Scotian public at large. CARP NS further understands that consultation process is well underway, and emphasizes that the priority going forward should be directed to further collaboration as needed to delineate the Coastal Protection Zone and to enact necessary regulations to effect implementation.

‘If coastal protections rules are not in place, what do you think is the best way to protect new buildings on private coastal property (land) in Nova Scotia as well as protect people who will live and work there from coastal erosion, coastal flooding and rising sea levels?’

CARP NS, recognizing and accepting that new rules are required and long overdue, suggests that a moratorium be placed on issuance of permits for new development (including major repairs/renovations) and new activities in sensitive and vulnerable coastal areas, until such time as the Coastal Protection Zone is formally established and corresponding regulations are enacted.  In exceptional situations that are urgent or otherwise time-sensitive, permits could

be issued based on on-site investigation and recommendation by an accredited professional.

‘If a person who owns property along the ocean in Nova Scotia knows and understands the risks of coastal erosion, coastal flooding and rising sea levels, and still chooses to build their

home/cottage/business in the high-risk area, should they have to pay more for insurance or more taxes to help pay for potential impacts?’

CARP NS, given the circumstance cited, suggests that property owners can be expected to pay more insurance based on risk and should bear the responsibility for follow-up, whether to repair damage to the environment or structures or to relocate structures significantly

damaged or destroyed – paying more taxes implies that government (and taxpayers generally) should pay for cost of damages resulting from poor decisions by individual property owners. There should be a clear distinction regarding the role of government in providing support for property owners whose homes (other buildings or structures) were established historically and/or without understanding of climate change and rising sea levels versus property owners who knowingly build homes/cottages/businesses in high-risk areas (and especially who may do so in contravention of regulations).  With regulations in place, enforcement should be a priority.

The Nova Scotia Coastal Protection Act would create a new Coastal Protection Zone in which rules (also called regulations) for building new homes/cottages/other buildings on the property or renovating/expanding homes/cottages/other buildings that are already there can be developed.  The goal of this zone would be to:

–     keep people who live or work along the coast safer from coastal flooding, coastal erosion and rising sea levels

–     make sure new homes/cottages/other building built where they are less likely to be damaged by coastal erosion, coastal flooding and sea level rise

–     limit damage to sensitive natural areas along the coast from development. Do you think Nova Scotia needs this Zone?  Why or why not?’

CARP NS supports the establishment of the establishment of a Coastal Protection Zone for the reasons cited in the immediately preceding question.

Would you support creating this Zone in Nova Scotia if it kept insurance and provincial disaster relief costs lower for Nova Scotians by reducing claims for property damage from coastal erosion and coastal flooding? Why or why not’

CARP NS supports the creation of this Zone, again, for the reasons cited in the immediately preceding question.

 Concluding Comment

In short, CARP NS supports the implementation of the Coastal Protection Act as a matter of provincial high-level priority, and urgency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *