I was on a chain of Zoom meetings this morning when I received an email from the NS Department of Environment and Climate Change providing guidance for coastal property owners in the face of climate-related coastal changes. It took me by surprise, but I thought perhaps it was a stopgap measure until the long-awaited Coastal Protection Act (CPA) that passed with all-party support in 2019 was finally proclaimed and regulations developed. After lunch, a look at CBC NS and my heart sank. This is not a stop-gap, this is a replacement. The PC government has capitulated to private interests and is now refusing to regulate coastal zone development activity, despite overwhelming support for the CPA discovered in their own public engagement work, instead providing guidance and tools for private landowners like flood line mapping. I support more information and tools for everyone involved, but  ‘protection’ in this new approach is limited to protecting coastal landowners and their rights and stuff, not 1) protecting the coast and its ecosystems and non-human inhabitants (who do provide us critical benefits as a byproduct of their thriving), nor 2) the rest of Nova Scotia and federal taxpayers from continuing to fund post-storm recovery of ill-considered development. We have seen too many times what kind of decision-making results from downloading responsibility in this way (see above).

The coast does not belong to coastal landowners. It belongs to the ocean. We need to learn how to give it the space it needs for its natural dynamism. Giving elite coastal landowners and developers the power to decide the composition and resilience of our coasts is unjust and blinkered to our common reality and shared future: surely we know better after Fiona.  For shame.