Amid projections that Annapolis Royal, N.S., could face severe flooding by 2050, the town is working on its fifth draft of a climate change plan to help it deal with the impact of sea level rise.
"We want to get a list of any and all options," said Mayor Amery Boyer.
One idea being considered is a barrier at Goat Island, which would create a freshwater lake.
"That's not as far-fetched as it seems and there'd be all kinds of potential for making this a water recreation destination," said Boyer.
But such a project would require partners and funding and Annapolis Royal is already grappling with a financial crunch. The planned closure of a Nova Scotia Power tidal generating station in the area will cause the town to lose about 18 per cent of its revenue.
According to Boyer, the situation has turned the town's environment committee into a "group of grant writers." That's why town officials have made hiring a climate change co-ordinator one of their priorities.
They've received half of the funding for the position from the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation and are hoping to get the rest from the province.
Boyer said the co-ordinator's first duty would be to hold public consultations on a climate change plan.
"Who knows what the solution is, but it won't be for a lack of trying," said Boyer.
Nancy Anningson, an expert on coastal adaptation with the Ecology Action Centre, said municipalities are struggling with climate change issues and need a lot more direction and support from the provincial government.
"Why are they all working by themselves," she said. "There's something missing in terms of supportive co-ordination."
Anningson said municipalities need someone to gather information on what's been tried and what works when it comes to climate change adaptation.
She also believes Nova Scotia's new Coastal Protection Act will prevent future problems for municipal governments by preventing development that could be impacted by sea level rise. But Anninson worries about how long it's taking for the new legislation to take effect.
The Department of Environment and Climate Change is developing regulations to implement the act. Public consultation on the regulations ends on Sept. 30.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is also asking for $7 billion over three years from the federal government for disaster mitigation and climate resilience projects.
"Municipalities are on the front lines of new climate extremes," said Joanne Vanderheyden, FCM's president. "The main challenge is that the funding that's available doesn't match the needs on the ground."
Vanderheyden said the FCM is recommending an additional $500 million to pay for the creation of natural hazard maps and local risk assessments so smaller municipalities know where to start.
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