eroding cliffs from the bay of fundy.

Coastal Protection Act

In 2019, the Nova Scotia Government passed the Coastal Protection Act – the first of its kind in Canada. For more than a decade, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) has been working with organizations, coastal community members, and the public toward the realization of this vital legislation. It will take effect once the accompanying regulations are developed and approved. Once in place, the Act will help make our coastal ecosystems more resilient so they can adapt and protect us.  

After more than a decade of pressure and activism from our community, we are ecstatic to be in a better position to protect our coasts.  

The Coastal Protection Act will:  

  1. Provide protection for our vital coastal ecosystems 

  1. Eliminate inappropriate coastal development 

  1. Preserve the dynamic and resilient nature of our coasts to better withstand climate change 

Introduction to the Coastal Protection Act

Introduction to the Coastal Protection Act  

Once regulations are developed and passed, the Coastal Protection Act will create a coastal protection zone. This will regulate all development on lands within a certain (to be determined) proximity of the shore. Through the use of property-specific assessments carried out by designated professionals under the Act, people looking to develop within the coastal zone will receive a minimum horizontal setback from the water, and be required to meet minimum building elevation above sea level standards. This is an excellent way to address and regulate the wide variety of coastal geography in Nova Scotia.  

The EAC is working with groups across Canada and internationally to identify best practices for implementing the Act. We will also be championing the voices of communities across the province on issues such as undersized lots. We will ensure that regulations specifically address these pressing challenges.  

In the coming years, we will be seeking updates to the current on-site septic system and well regulations to address gaps. The Coastal Protection Act does a great deal to protect new building development from erosion and sea-level rise, but fails to address the location of septic systems and wells. As these are subject to the same threats as houses and cottages, they pose a significant risk to the environment and homeowners if breached. 



Why Nova Scotia needs coastal legislation: 

Our coast is invaluable. Nova Scotia’s economy, our way of life, and our cultural heritage are intricately connected to our coastline. We rely on it not just for development, but for recreation, transportation and tourism, for sustaining fisheries, and as a habitat for coastal species. We need to ensure that our coastline continues to protect and nourish us, to employ, and entertain us.   

Preparing for climate change, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe storms will not only save money but will also decrease the risk to life and infrastructure. United Nations reports show that every dollar invested in pre-emptive climate adaptation can save up to seven dollars in relief and recovery down the road. When Hurricane Juan ripped through Halifax, over $100 million in damage was left in its wake. With the increased frequency of dangerous storm events, provincial dollars are better spent investing in preemptive solutions.