Nova Scotia community and industry stakeholders have shared their input on the Coastal Protection Act, and an Insurance Bureau of Canada representative says the financial case for supporting the act is clear.
Passed in 2019, the legislation aims to restrict development in places where Nova Scotian homes and businesses may be at risk from coastal erosion, sea level rise and coastal flooding, or where it will damage coastal ecosystems.
The proposed regulations will help protect the province’s coastline and prevent new construction from the impacts of climate change. New buildings will be required to maintain a minimum distance from the water, a proposed range of 80 to 100 meters. The legislation will not apply to existing coastal homes and buildings, unless the owner intends to expand or rebuild.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Atlantic vice president expressed support for the new regulations.
“Nova Scotia’s coastal areas have been an integral part of the development of the province. It is important to our future that a plan is put in place to adapt to the reality of climate change and rising sea levels,” Amanda Dean, IBC vice president of Atlantic Canada, said in a March news release.
“The property and casualty insurance industry has observed an alarming increase in damage from severe weather over the last decade through increasing claims amounts. Coastal properties have become especially vulnerable to damage.”
Events with large economic and insured damages are not few and far between in Nova Scotia.
In November, the Nova Scotian government allotted $200,000 in disaster assistance per uninsured household for damages caused by that month’s heavy rain and windstorm event, which largely affected the coast.
And last March’s severe rain and windstorm across Atlantic Canada caused $50 million in insured damages—$7 million in Nova Scotia alone, per IBC.
Dean said the financial case for supporting this act is clear.
“When insurance is not available following a severe weather event, property owners may expect to draw on provincial disaster relief programs, which we all pay for through our taxes. While the decision to restrict the use of vulnerable coastal properties may be difficult, protecting Nova Scotia’s coastline is the right thing to do, both for our financial well-being and for the environment.”
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Minister Timothy Halman says stakeholder feedback will help refine and finalize the regulations. The goal is to have the regulations and the act, which is not yet proclaimed, take effect in 2023.
Once approved, the legislation will:
Create a coastal protection zone around the province’s coast;
Ensure any construction (wharves, boat ramps, shoreline armouring and other structures) do not interfere with the nature of the coast; and
Improve protection from sea level rise and coastal erosion.