What does the Coastal Protection Act mean for landowners?
Last March, the Coastal Protection Act was introduced into the Nova Scotia Legislature. It is aimed at preventing more erosion of coastline and subsequent damage to coastal buildings.
The effects of climate change have taken their toll on our scrolling coastlines.
Coastal areas, which are already stressed by human activity, pollution, invasive species, and storms have been highly affected by climate change. Rising sea levels are eroding and inundating coastal eco systems. Additionally, warmer and more acidic oceans have been disrupting coastal and marine ecosystems.
The Coastal Protection Act applies to new buildings and developments planned near coastal areas. The new regulations are intended to protect salt marshes, dunes and other coastal features. These natural elements help to filter water, allowing the coast to naturally adapt to the impact of climate change.
Currently, the setback limit is set at 3.8 metres. Officials have been working through the regulations over the last 12 months to determine what the new required setback limit will be. There are approximately 60,000 properties along saltwater coastline in Nova Scotia. In fact, 70 per cent of the province's population lives within 20 kilometres from the coast.
The bill will not address protection for those properties that are pre-existing near shorelines and does not cover funding for breakwaters or retaining walls.
What does this mean if you own land near the coastline with an intent to develop?
While there are current guidelines in place, they are not regulated, making each case a little bit different in terms of adhering to setback limits and perhaps ill-advised development projects. The new bill aims to standardize these regulations to best serve the interests of our coastlines by using rising sea level and land erosion predictions.
If you are a landowner that has yet to develop and are considering a coastal build, your best course of action is to contact your MLA to determine if your land falls within the Coastal Protection Zone and if so, what implications this may have on your proposed development.
If you'd like more information on your legal standing as a coastal landowner, we would be happy to assist you with any inquiry you may have.