Time to take action
Annapolis Royal taking action on sea level rise, other environmental issues
When it comes to rising sea levels, Annapolis Royal has a lot to lose. But the mayor and council aren’t sitting idly by waiting to be rescued.
They’re about to establish a committee to tackle environmental issues with rising water levels expected to be chief among those concerns.
“I don’t want to scare people, but we cannot be blind to what’s happening,” said Mayor Bill Macdonald from his office scant metres from the edge of the Annapolis Basin. “We have to do something, and this mayor and council are committed to it. Citizens in this area and town are committed to it.”
He said locals often walk along the waterfront during storms to see the storm surge just because it’s exciting, dramatic, and dynamic. “But without a doubt we now walk along that water front on a storm surge and we see how high the water is actually getting. It foreshadows, I think, what we can expect from the future.”
Due to flooding and storm surge, water now tops the wharf at the bottom of St. George Street by three inches every 18 to 24 months, according to a study done by the Clean Annapolis River Project. Ecologist Hague Vaughan told a recent meeting of concerned area residents that by the year 2030 the wharf will be topped by as much as 18.7 inches about 12 to 13 times a year. Vaughan’s figures come from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States released about a year ago.
Stakes Are High
For Annapolis Royal, and many communities on both sides of the Annapolis Basin, the stakes are high.
“We characterize our town as the Cradle of Our Nation,” said Macdonald. “Part of that is reflected in the inventory of built heritage that we have in this town. We have an enormous collection of designated heritage buildings, many of which are along St. George Street along the waterfront. If we don’t have a solution, if we don’t solve the pending problem, we will lose irreplaceable relics of important times in the history of Canada.”
Those figures quoted by Vaughan at the Feb. 13 meeting of residents at the United Church are considered conservative. Documented sea level rise has been about 33 centimetres a century. For instance, the tide gauge record of Charlottetown from 1911 to 1998 shows a relative sea level rise of 32 centimetres. That’s about a foot. But projections are a rise possibly as high as two metres by the end of the century. See TIME, A3