Climate change adaptation will require collaboration, coordination

Katie
Katie Tower
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SACKVILLE, N.B. – Tantramar is leading the way and working proactively to develop a coordinated approach that will help communities prepare for and adapt to climate change.

Experts and community leaders from throughout the Tantramar region and from across the border in Cumberland County, N.S. were brought together last Thursday for the second annual climate change collaborative workshop in Sackville, to discuss the issues and concerns surrounding climate change and the steps that could be taken to address them.

Amanda Marlin, executive director of EOS Eco-Energy, the local organization that hosted last week’s workshop, says finding ways to keep the communication lines open on these issues is vital.

“The issue of climate change is too large for just one group or one community to tackle alone,” says Amanda Marlin, executive director of EOS Eco-Energy, which hosted the workshop. “It requires communication, collaboration and coordination at the community level, with the help of government departments, to be effective and meaningful.” 

The collaborative workshop is an opportunity for scientists, planners, EMO coordinators, municipal leaders, provincial government representatives and others to come to the table each year, thanks to funding from the Environmental Trust Fund, and coordinate their efforts.

Workshop presenters gave updates on dyke maintenance, salt marsh restoration, flood modeling and mapping, the Atlantic Tide Gauge System (including the Port Elgin tidal gauge), Nova Scotia’s flood strategy, and preparing for extreme weather events.

Mike Green, with the Department of Agriculture’s regional dykeland maintenance unit, said his department is responsible for maintaining the 86 kilometres of dykes in the region. But he pointed out there is simply not enough funding to “put all the dykes up to the elevations the way it should be done.”

Green said his department’s mandate is to protect the agriculture lands, not the infrastructure (rail lines, roadways, etc.) in those areas. Green said municipalities need to start lobbying for more money, he said, to ensure the dykes can properly protect those assets, if that’s a measure they want to take.

“This is something we really have to start looking at,” said Green. “We’ve got to come up with solutions for all these problems.”

Also discussed during the afternoon session was emergency response and how essential coordination is between the EMO services and other municipal and provincial departments.

A recommendation that came out of the workshop was to improve coordination between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick’s EMOs, particularly when it comes to climate change related issues such as massive flooding, which could cut off transportation routes.

Other issues discussed during the day included education and outreach, as well as planning and policy.

One workshop participant noted that it’s important to place focus on all the areas of concern that were discussed – maintaining the dykes (to give us more time, but realizing the dykes can only be built so high and this is not a forever solution), municipal regulations and zoning, and also EMO (with alert systems in place), as they all have an equally important role to play in addressing and adapting to climate change. 

Marlin agrees, saying climate change adaptation will take a multi-pronged approach –requiring careful planning and policy development that is progressive; public outreach and education; infrastructure maintenance (including the aging dyke system); and emergency measures.

Organizations: EOS Eco-Energy, Environmental Trust Fund, Atlantic Tide Gauge System Department of Agriculture

Geographic location: SACKVILLE, Tantramar, Cumberland County Nova Scotia Port Elgin New Brunswick

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