N.S. Federation of Municipalities tasked with managing $15M climate fund

·2 min read
A strip of Nova Scotia coastline is shown in this undated handout photo. One environmentalist says they would like to see money spent to protect communities from rising sea levels. (Saint Mary's University/Canadian Press - image credit)
A strip of Nova Scotia coastline is shown in this undated handout photo. One environmentalist says they would like to see money spent to protect communities from rising sea levels. (Saint Mary's University/Canadian Press - image credit)

A non-profit group that acts as a voice for Nova Scotia's 49 municipalities has been chosen by the province to manage a multimillion-dollar fund intended to help communities adapt to climate change.

The Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities will select projects for the $15-million Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund and is expected to dole out the money over the next three years.

Debbie Nielsen, the federation's infrastructure and sustainability officer, said planning is in the early stages, but applications for grants will likely open by September.

"We know that the projects have to either be a mitigation project and or an adaptation [project] and then there's some other objectives that the province is trying to meet," Nielsen said Tuesday.

In January, the Nova Scotia government announced it would invest $37.3 million to help meet the targets of its Environmental Goals and Climate Change Reduction Act. The province set aside $15 million of that funding for the Sustainable Communities Challenge Fund.

Nielsen said grants will be between $75,000 and $1 million. Applications will be open to municipalities, non-profits, band councils and educational institutions. For-profit organizations will be able to partner with these groups while applying for grants.

Recommendations for spending

Will Balser, the coastal adaptation co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, said Tuesday they would like to see the money go toward helping coastal communities adapt to rising sea levels.

Balser said more nature-based solutions to rising tides, such as living shorelines, should be a top priority. Living shorelines use natural materials, such as plants or stones, to protect against erosion.

"Building a big wall or a levee is part of adaptation. It's recognizing the effects of climate change and saying, 'Hey, we don't want waves lapping at our front doors right away.' But that's not necessarily the right way to go about adaptation," said Balser.

"If we work on improving biodiversity and working with nature to have our adaptation solutions, you know, I think that that's a much smarter investment."

Balser also said they believe more funding will be necessary to help coastal communities.

"We have 35-plus coastal municipalities out of our 49 municipalities in Nova Scotia. Fifteen million dollars gets spread pretty thin pretty quickly, especially when you're talking about infrastructure."

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