Cheticamp waterfront will be affected by higher water levels
The future of the Cheticamp waterfront opened some eyes at county council on Monday.
Kayakers pull up to the Cheticamp boardwalk
Veronica Brzeski of the Ecology Action Centre appeared before council to bring it up-to-date on the climate change project which has been going on in Cheticamp for the past two years.
The project winds up in March.
Brzeski said this is a climate change study, studying climate changes over 30-year periods, with an eye as to how it will affect Cheticamp, especially when it comes to flooding, the tourism industry and the fishing industry.
She pointed out that while the earth’s atmosphere protects us from harmful cosmic emissions it does trap the greenhouse gases which lead to global warming.
“We are warming, there’s no denying that,” she said.
She said that the permafrost and the glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, adding fresh water to our oceans, changing the makeup and wildlife in the oceans, causing major storms and runoff and raising our coastal water levels.
It is a complex change.
“It is hard to predict exactly what is to happen,” she added.
Brzeski said water levels are rising in Nova Scotia; storm surges are damaging roads, ports and infrastructure; the fishery (lobster/crab) will be affected because of the increased acidity in the water; more erosion will take place because of the lack of winter ice (Big Ice); there will be less snow cover which will affect agriculture and forestry, bring more pests, and, of course, change our seasons.
Salt water intrusion will hurt the agriculture industry because more violent and frequent weather events will damage the beaches and dunes and cause the damage we saw in Margaree and Meat Cove in 2010 and 2011.
Twenty-three partners, including Inverness County, have contributed to the Ecology Action Centre study.
She said to adapt we need to be aware of the situation, gather as much information as possible, engage the community, acquire feedback and a plan and form partnerships and coalitions.
Students from Mount St. Vincent, NSCC, St. Mary’s and Dalhousie have contributed.
How will climate change affect the tourism industry, and how do we deal with erosion?
Already the iconic Cheticamp boardwalk has been damaged by storms. What is the answer for the boardwalk? Repair it each time, better protect it or retreat? The community is still dealing with that issue. With climate change we can expect erosion, flooding and isolation. We can help by reducing our energy consumption and build differently.
She pointed out that communities must become aware and involved before it is too late.
The municipality must have a Municipal Climate Change Action Plan ready by December 31st, 2013.
Brzeski told council that the Cheticamp information they gathered could be used for the plan as well as the maps which indicate the areas that will flood.
Rising water levels will have a serious impact on our facilities and infrastructure, cause economic and environmental changes, force us to move some buildings, place salt in our drinking water and cause sewage contamination.
We have to set priorities and stop building right on the ocean.
Warden Duart MacAulay said council will study their findings.
Councillor Jim Mustard pointed out that council learned a lot from the Margaree-Meat Cove storms.
“Don’t build on a floodplain,” he said. “Maybe we will have to take a closer look at building permits.”
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