MODG proactive in addressing climate change: new mitigation plan adopted

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
August 5 2020

GUYSBOROUGH – Last month the Municipality of the District of Guysborough voted to accept a new Climate Change Mitigation Plan prepared over the past year by CBCL Limited of Halifax. The plan outlines and addresses the “risks and costs associated with flooding, extreme weather, and climate change on public safety, human health, environment, and infrastructure resilience are at the forefront of municipal planning discussions.”

The municipal government commissioned the report as a proactive measure to identify and mitigate the impact of climate change. The plan adopted last month builds on the Municipal Climate Change Adaptation Plan passed by council in 2013.

The highest impacted areas of concern for the municipality as stated in the report are the economy, wastewater collection, road access, electrical substations, power outages and buildings.

The report identifies key areas that are at risk and offers a number of mitigation options. An example is road flooding and washouts. Particularly noted in the report are the following locations in the MODG: Boylson to Cutlers Cove (approximately 5km), Cooks Cove, Hortons Cove, Dorts Cove, Halfway Cove, Queensport and Half Island Cove. The plan outlines three options for consideration: flood protection with dykes, berms, or sea walls; raising vulnerable road segments; or increasing by-pass opportunities, providing alternative routes to affected roads.

Five strategies are typically used to mitigate flooding and erosion: avoid the risk, retreat/move location, accommodate/modify construction, protect/engineer solutions, or proceed/accept the known risks.

MODG’s CAO Barry Carroll told The Journal that this report was initiated during the municipality’s January 2019 planning session and was completed after Hurricane Dorian pounded the area in September of that year.

The report will be used to inform future bylaw and zoning decisions, but Carroll said the municipality is waiting on the provincial government to enact Bill 106, the recently passed Coastal Protection Act. “We are holding back on our new municipal planning strategy and even development of new zoning bylaws, waiting for them to do their regulations so we can incorporate them; implement that in our own regulations.

“There is a bigger picture to coastal zoning, sea level rise and the new normal we are into now with climate change. This is something we have been working on for a few years,” said Carroll.

MODG covers an area of approximately 2,200 km2, with 400 km of coastline -- of which approximately 44 km are under municipal control.

Sea level rise, flooding and erosion are the biggest climate change concerns for the MODG. When a new strategic plan is developed for the municipality, all these factors will be taken into account. “We will be erring on the side of caution as we move forward to adjust regulations to factor in climate change. That’s for sure…When we go to develop our new regulations, we want to make sure we are putting at least a hundred-year lens on where we permit future development,” said Carroll.

The Climate Change Mitigation Plan is available online at the MODG’s website under Reports/ Flood Mitigation Plan. The provincial Coastal Protection Act can be found online by searching Nova Scotia Bill 106.