Experts say that when protecting Chignecto Isthmus, the ecological aspect must be considered

Some experts say the Chignecto Isthmus study, which presents three options to protect the valuable $189 million to $300 million trade corridor, is missing an ecological dimension.

The options, which emerged from a report last week, include raising the existing levees, building new levees or raising the existing levees and installing steel sheet piling.

Will Balser, the coordinator for coastal adaptation at the Ecology Action Centre, says that while the report achieved its goal, with so many salt marshes in the area it lacks an ecological lens.

“We recognize the ecosystem services that a salt marsh provides us with — not only in terms of erosion control and flood management, but also in terms of carbon sequestration,” he said in an interview last week. “It’s really an aspect that deserves very close attention.”

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Nova Scotia Public Works Secretary Kim Masland admits it is a “very significant project with a significant price tag”.

After Ottawa was asked to foot the entire bill, the federal government proposed paying half the cost and letting Nova Scotia and New Brunswick do the rest.

But regardless of the options, cost will not be an obstacle, Masland told reporters on Thursday.

“All three options are still on the table.”

It is estimated that $35 billion worth of trade annually passes through the isthmus between the CN Rail line and the Trans-Canada Highway.

Click here to play the video: “How climate change threatens the Chignecto Isthmus”

How climate change threatens the Chignecto Isthmus

How Climate Change Threatens the Chignecto Isthmus – September 26, 2019

Meanwhile, CLIMAtlantic, a New Brunswick group that provides data on climate change in the Atlantic region, says people need to be aware of the personal risk of living in the region.

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“Under climate change, we are never without risk,” says Sabine Dietz, Managing Director of the organization. “Sea level rise will not just stop.”

Dietz says while costs vary significantly, the three options are similar.

She is pleased that protecting the surrounding communities was included in the report.

But, she says, natural buffers like salt marshes and tidal areas were neglected in the report.

“They are not considered here,” she says. “But there is a possibility where you have more of it in front of the dikes.”

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Salt marsh option missing from plan to protect NS-NB land link from flooding: experts

“To manage the risks of climate change, we really need to look at three original options,” she says. “One is protection, one is adjusting what you have to actually manage the risk, third is withdrawal or relocation.”

When dealing with the risks of climate change, all three categories must be taken into account, but the focus is only on the protection aspect.

The study assumes that once an option is selected, it would take five years before construction can begin and that the project will not be completed for ten years from the start date.

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— With a file from The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc. Experts say that when protecting Chignecto Isthmus, the ecological aspect must be considered

Brian Lowry

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