In 2021, the government invited Nova Scotians to provide their input on the proposed regulations that accompany the Coastal Protection Act which will help protect the province's coastline from climate change. More than 250 individuals and organizations provided input during the consultation. An overview of the feedback, from the public, municipalities, the real estate and insurance industries, and professional engineering, land surveying and planning organizations is outlined below.
Comments addressed five different elements of the regulations: effectiveness; the scope of activities regulated; the approach applied; the roles and responsibilities assigned to different actors; and other issues relating to rollout and implementation.
Most respondents felt the proposed regulations would be effective in achieving the aims of the Act. While some respondents felt that the regulations would place too many restrictions on development along the coast, others felt that the regulations were not restrictive enough and that, in particular, they could go further to protect coastal ecosystems.
Most comments regarding the proposed scope felt that there were too many exemptions proposed and full exemptions should be limited wherever possible. Other common themes related to scope included how existing structures, shoreline structures, nature-based solutions and Crown land would be treated under the Act.
Nova Scotians expressed widespread support for the site-specific, science-based approach to regulation. A few respondents, including some municipalities, thought the zone was too wide or that a province-wide uniform width was not the right approach.
Roles and Responsibilities
While acknowledging the importance of adapting to climate change, municipalities felt that the protection of coastal ecosystems was a provincial issue and related permitting and approvals should be issued at the provincial level. Sector organizations and the general public also commented on the role of municipalities in implementing the Act and stressed the importance of clearly assigned enforcement roles and responsibilities.
Transparent implementation of the Act, effective enforcement and strong compliance mechanisms were highlighted by many general public respondents as areas of concern. Respondents across all groups wanted to know when the Act would come into effect and many stressed that the regulations should be finalized as soon as possible.
Government also consulted with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia under a separate Terms of Reference process. This process was still ongoing when the What We Heard report was finalized.