Coastal action report

This note from Jen Graham, Coastal Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre gives us an update on the latest in coastal matters. We do have group that keeps in contact of which TREPA is a part.

Dear fellow coastal champions:

I wanted to say hello, relay a few updates, and in general see how things are going on the coastal front in places dear to your hearts. There are some upcoming opportunities for input and influence that I want to make sure you are aware of. I also wanted to acknowledge the outstanding work Karen Traversy has been doing participating in the aquaculture review panel, and keeping us all informed about opportunities for public involvement. Thank you, Karen.

Coastal Mailing

I am switching my listserves and contacts over to a contact database format. This will greatly improve the reach and flexibility of my communications. It would really help me out if you could go to this link: Join UsToday! to add your contact to our database. Don’t worry, for now, I’m still keeping this list for our discusisons and sharing between organizations.

Coastal Strategy/Legislation

I think we’ve reached an interesting place on coastal planning/policy in Nova Scotia. On one hand the level of municipal interested is extremely high. The Union of Nova Scotia municipalities (UNSM) followed up on last November’s resolution about a provincial Coastal Act by writing to Min. Keith Colwell (Fisheries and Aquaculture) to ask the province to explain how it plans to move forward with this request. I think this is good, particularly if individual municipalities keep bringing up the issue in thie dealings with the province.

 On the other hand, Fisheries and Aquaculture appears baffled about how to respond to the UNSM. They don’t know what to do with the “currently shelved” coastal strategy, Drop it? Release it? Make it better? They don’t want to spend a lot of money, and so are scared to commit to it, but they also need to figure out how to assure municipalities they are doing something. Whatever we actually think of the last draft strategy we saw. (I believe “Meh” is a technical term meaning, “it’s okay”), It was at least a framework. Without it, current coastal staff in the Department has no clear direction and nothing to move forward. Furthermore, the Provincial Ocean Network people are no longer meeting, so the interdepartment coordination s going way down. Eveyrone is back in their own silos. And I don’t think that is a good development.

So, I feel that whenever possible, we should let elected officials know we think they should release the strategy – after all, we all put a lot of work into it, and at the same time we expect them to honor municipalities’ request to move ahead with coastal legislation. The idea of a joint municipal and provincial working group on this issue seems workable and I think we should ask for that.

Comparing notes with my colleagues, on their meetings with this newish government consistently says it is not keen to give away money without a clear business plan. They say they want sustainable development, but that it must be demonstrated to be sustainable and cost-effective. There is a lot of language being used about a “culture shift” needed towards entrepreneurship and profit. They do not seem overly fond of words like “innovative”, “world class”, or “unique”. The Insurance Bureau mantra of “Water is the new fire” seems to resonate

 The staff team for coastal file is new and relatively young. The whole Department is new as most of the originals quit when the office moved to Cornwallis. The Executive Director – Barry McClean is recently here from PEI. His background is lobster policy. The Minister Keith Colwell seems a pretty conventional thinker.

The new young Minister of Environment (Randy Delorey) has an Executive Assistant with background in aquatic and resource management, who also worked at DFO. They are both proud of their home town Antigonish connections. Not committal. They certainly are aware of climate change, but don’t seem to see this coastal stuff as really relevant to their department. I think whenever possible, in speaking to them, we should emphasize that most of the egregious unwise climate-dumb coastal developments are happening because of permitting and approvals from Environment.

On still another front, Min. Mark Furey in Services Municipal Relations currently setting up meeting with municipalities to find out their priorities. He is proud that he is doing things differently. This is a good time to check in with your municipalities to ask if they are communicating with the province about how important coastal and climate change adaptation issues are for their communities.

So I am suggesting we continue to work with and support our municipalities while also making direct request to province to get moving. I’d be happy to talk about this further with anyone interested in a strategy conversation.

Coastal Zone Canada

In other news, Coastal Zone Canada is coming to Halifax June 16-20th. There will be a lot of speakers, events, and special sessions. Most researchers, government, policy people doing anything coastal attend this conference. Four years ago in PEI , there was a huge amount of attention to what Nova Scotia was doing with it coastal strategy We are going to look pretty silly without it when the Conference is in Nova Scotia. I know it is difficult for community groups to be at coastal zone canada because fees are high. There are opportunities to volunteer in return for free admission. You can find out more from the Coastal Zone Canada website.

At Coastal Zone Canada, I am organizing a design charette called: Living on the Coast: 2050 in collaboration with Patricia Manuel. We are working to have a separate admission fee for this event only , and I hope to see some of you there. I believe Karen Traversy may be organizing something to do with aquaculture review.

Drown Nova Scotia

A great group of volunteer mappers are using Google Earth to generate images of what Nova Scotia will look like in 50 years as sea levels continue to rise. You can read about our DrownNS project on CBC here or in the Amherst Daily News here. There was also a nice piece in Metro on Tuesday, which you can access here: Metro Story We could really use your help in making these images travel even further. Most of the Drown Your Town action is happening on twitter under the #DrownNS and #DrownYourTown hashtags. Support us by following @beach_babe so you can retweet our cool (and sometimes frightening) images of Nova Scotia communities under sea level rise. If you are not on twitter, you participate on Facebook by “liking” ‘EcologyActionCentre’ and ‘ActForOurCoastNow’ on Facebook, and sharing the Drown Your Town images as they appear. I can also ask my volunteer mappers to generate images for your community if you would like to circulate them and help start conversations about coastal planning and climate change adaptation.

The Local News

As ever, the on-the-ground coastal action is where most of the good (and sad) stuff happens. Here are a few bits and pieces, and I hope you’ll continue to share more via this list:

 – Upcoming Public Consultations about Carters Beach provincial park and nature reserve. There has been a nice information newsletter produced and there will be opportunities to discuss the management plan. DNR is leading this, and I believe Ruth Smith from Port Mouton is on the steering committee. Is this true, Ruth?

– Halycon Tidal. A flurry of news stories on Halycom proposal for tidal barrage in Scotts Bay. Apparently, this proposal has not submitted an actual application, but are generating media and holding community meetings. At EAC, the Energy Committee is watching it closely, and I will on it as well. Eager to hear if any of you are involved.

– – Municipality of District of Lunenburg. Upcoming public consultations on proposed coastal planning and setbacks! I believe Bluenose Coasal Action Foundation is heavily involved.

– Reef Balls. Clean Nova Scotia has installed reef balls (fish habitat and maybe storm surge blocking) in front of Point Pleasant Park. Should be interesting to see how they work out.

– Beach Management and wildlife. Bird Studies Canada is working closely with the Municipality of the District of Shelburne on ways to incorporate beach management, especially protection for shorebirds, into land use planning and development decisions. Sue Abott and Cristine Currie could tell you all about it!

– Mining and Quarries. Sierra Club Atlantic Canada and EAC are organizing a workshop February 24-26th designed to improve dialogue between mining interest, government, and communities. I feel that many coastal communities have and are struggling with mining and quarry issues, so this is very relevant to our issues. You can sign up for the workshop here:

Yours in coastal action,


 Jennifer Graham
Coastal Coordinator
Ecology Action Centre
2705 Fern Lane
Halifax, NS
(902) 442-5046
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