Vicki Conrad, MLA Queens speaking on the Coastal Management Study
Thursday, November 13, 2008, Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly
MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.
GOV'T.(N.S.): COASTAL MGT. STRATEGY – DEVELOP
MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak on this important resolution where I'm asking the government to look at developing a comprehensive coastal management strategy and consulting with all appropriate stakeholders. Coastal management is very important, I believe, to the Province of Nova Scotia and certainly it's an issue that has been batted around for many, many years.
I just want to indicate how many years that coastal management strategy has been discussed, not only in this province, but also federally. Over 30 years ago the federal Department of the Environment commissioned a study through Dalhousie University on coastal zone management for the Atlantic Provinces. That study identified then the need for a solid coastal management plan for the Atlantic Provinces, which obviously includes the Province of Nova Scotia.
They identified many recommendations and the importance of a comprehensive coastal management strategy. They recognized that there would be an ongoing threat of climate change at the time, that the Province of Nova Scotia, and all Atlantic provinces, would experience, over the coming years, coastal erosion, rising sea levels, frequent storms resulting in storm surges all around our coastal areas and also within our fresh water courses throughout the province.
Development plays a huge role in coastal management. It was identified that much development was happening on our coastal lines, which sometimes would see development encroaching on sensitive wetlands and vulnerable ecosystems.
It's just so important, and it's unfortunate that that study of 30-some years ago has sat on a shelf for that long, with those recommendations never implemented. During the past 30 years as well, this province has seen many studies fall by the wayside, and those recommendations were never implemented, on the importance of a clear, strong, concise and comprehensive coastal management plan.
I also want to let the House know that for three years I sat on the Planning Advisory Committee with the Region of Queens Municipality, a few years back. My time spent on that committee saw much discussion around coastal management for the coastal communities and also inland waterways throughout Queens County. It was recognized then, at this committee level, and also with the understanding from the Region of Queens, that coastal management, especially for developers, was very important, and that Planning Advisory Committee, through that recognition of a good coastal management plan, drew up a number of zoning bylaws that would see buffer zones for new development along our watercourses.
The planning committee with the Region of Queens is still working diligently at seeing that planning document completed and moved forward through all of Queens County. The province, though, should really be taking the lead on coastal management strategy for the province. Giving that role to the municipalities, while the municipalities certainly recognize the importance of coastal management, unfortunately, where the province has not taken the lead with good coastal management strategy for the province, what we will eventually see is a mismatch of plans across the province. One municipality may certainly have clear coastal management for one particular area of the province, where another area may not have addressed those same types of needs. So a property owner owning property in different municipalities may be facing a different set of guidelines, in terms of any development or property ownership they may have on the coast.
I also want to indicate that a coastal management strategy also should include not only the environmental protection that coastal management would offer, but also coastal management strategy could include zoning and development conditions for industry, setting up shop in coastal communities.
In the Region of Queens, and in one of my coastal communities of Port Mouton, we see a community, and over 3,000 members of Queens, in distress because of an aquaculture operation that is looking to expand in a coastal community, in the coastal waters off the community of Port Mouton Bay. Because there is no zoning, or no industrial zones, around the province, or around the coastline of Nova Scotia, what we see is industry facing opposition in communities and there are no clear guidelines for either industry or communities that either support industry or don't support industry coming into their communities.
It certainly would make sense for industry when they're setting up shop around coastal Nova Scotia that they can look at a zoning plan that they could say this is where we can set up shop, this is where industry is welcome, or this is where industry will work. For example, there are many areas around the coast of Nova Scotia that perhaps may not necessarily be the best place for certain industry to be setting up shop. An industry may not know that and may go to a lot of expense in trying to develop their industry and then realizing that for whatever reason that particular part of the coastline or waterway is not really supportive or conducive to their particular operation.
Through a coastal management strategy that not only protects our coastline from all of the environmental concerns that we see happening all across the province and the country and in different coastal areas across the world, we can also see some benefit to industry if a coastal management strategy was to embrace looking at industrial zones, for example.
Of course, any of these discussions or any of this debate needs to be within consultation with all of the stakeholders. It doesn't need to be a reinvention of the wheel. As I pointed out earlier, there have been many studies on the need for coastal management - some studies that have been done well over 30 years ago, we just need to, I think, pick up those studies. Some of them perhaps would be redundant, but those studies should certainly be part of any consultation process or a starting point.
I would encourage the government to look seriously at the benefits for a coastal management strategy. In these challenging times, with climate change being a serious issue, it's really important. I've seen in my communities some serious floods over the past several years along our rivers and rising sea levels along our coastlines and erosion of a lot of our sand dunes and some of the beaches around Queens. A coastal management strategy would certainly offer some protection with that.
I want to go back to industrial zoning around our coastal communities, it certainly may be something that industry may want to discuss. Perhaps maybe industry would put their hand up and go, hey wait a minute, we're not interested in having any zoning that would put conditions on where we develop. But certainly it's a discussion that should take place somewhere and communities should be part of that process because I see what's happening in my community where industry is looking for a huge expansion and communities weren't consulted and feel that they should have been part of that process that would include them in their own community destiny in terms of what they see as economic development for their particular community.
So a coastal management strategy can encompass both of those areas of concern around our coastline. With that, I will take my seat, and thank you.