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Eagle Head Beach

See government inaction in action—at Eagle Head Beach, Nova Scotia, where former Halifax mayor Peter Kelly is making waves for all the wrong reasons.

According to South Shore resident Cathie Mourre, “The devastation is extreme. The sea grass is gone. The sand is being moved about and trucked away. The ponds are being infilled. The wildlife is being displaced. And the beach is forever changed.” The construction threatens habitats for nesting seabirds, including the endangered roseate tern and piping plover. 

The Nova Scotia Department of Environment issued a small fine of $687.50—hardly a deterrent.

In “Canada’s Ocean Playground,” only about 5% of the coastline is public and protected. Faced with increased sea-level rise, coastal flooding and coastal erosion, protecting the coastline is more important than ever before.  

Eagle Head Beach outside of Liverpool, Nova Scotia is just one of many places across the province where the burden of protecting important coastal ecosystems has fallen to concerned citizens due to government inaction. Sound familiar? The same thing has happened with Black Point Beach, Owls Head Provincial Park, and Hartlen Point, to name a few. 

The Nova Scotia government passed the Coastal Protection Act in 2019. And yet, the Act won’t actually be enforceable until the government develops the regulations, which is supposed to happen in 2023. 

Thankfully, everyday citizens are standing up to say “no.” As a result, the Region of Queens has revoked the controversial development permit. We will continue to keep a close eye on this situation as it develops.

In addition to staying vigilant, we can—and should—put pressure on the provincial government to accelerate the implementation of the Coastal Protection Act. But as those of us who have been down this road before know, we can’t just depend on government departments or elected officials to rectify the situation. We have to band together, across the province, as the Save Owls Head movement did. Even then, it’s not a guarantee of success. But together, we can make it very clear that we’re drawing a line in the sand. 
“Where government is failing to protect the natural world we all rely on, citizens are stepping up,” Nina Newington of the Last Hope Campaign recently said. “It is too late for business as usual. It is time to save what we can.”

Government has established the Coastal Protection Act to protect natural ecosystems and make sure new homes and businesses are safer from sea level rise, coastal flooding and coastal erosion […] The regulations will create protections for sensitive coastal ecosystems and make sure construction is at a safer height and distance from coastal shorelines.

Nova Scotia has 13,000 kilometres of coastline and much of the coast is vulnerable to the harmful impacts of climate change. Many areas are already experiencing coastal flooding or facing erosion that threatens homes, cottages and businesses.

The Government of Nova Scotia
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