“Certainly I accept the expert evidence of Hague Vaughan that day who has a lot of insight into the nature of rising tides and the environment,” the mayor said. “While we can dispute the timelines of these kinds of things, we all know - because we see it and experience it - there is a problem with rising sea levels.”
“We can’t leave it for anybody else. So what we do, and how we do that, and how we mitigate, that is really the issue,” the mayor said. “The town is actually taking the initiative to reach out to our surrounding partners – the County of Digby, the Town of Digby, the Municipality of the County of Annapolis – to come together in a joint initiative to look at some kind of mitigation of rising sea levels looking at the Digby Gut as a source of where we might consider some possibilities. We don’t know what those are.”
He explained Infrastructure Canada has an initiative seeking input and applications from communities on proposals that might be worth considering.
“They’re encouraging applicants to be as grand as possible in their thinking, and so we certainly are,” he said. “Again, back to the facts that these are the highest tides in the world, whatever we’re going to do is going to be significant. It’s going to be dramatic, and it may be an engineering colossal on one level because of the tides and the impacts of the tides and the strengths of the tides. You can’t stop the tides of the Fundy. What you might be able to do is displace, mitigate in some way. I’ll leave that to engineers to figure that out, but certainly we don’t want to sit on our hands here. We want to be part of the solution.”
The town’s CAO was to make a presentation to Annapolis County council on March 13.
“If the application is successful, there is
Moving Towards Action
Annapolis Royal’s town council has been moving towards action for more than a year, and the mayor credits in particular an Earth Day march designed to draw attention to such things as climate change and sea level rise.
Macdonald said it was feedback the town got from that that helped get things rolling.
“Holly Sanford, a councilor, had gathered a bunch of names of people who were interested in sitting on any kind of a committee that might happen. It’s taken a while but we’ve been moving in this direction,” he said.
More recently he was approached by the United Church’s group that deals with environmental issues, asking what the town was doing.
“I was happy to say that timing is everything because council had just had a meeting where we talked about establishing a climate committee of some kind, an environment committee,” Macdonald said. “We really didn’t know what to call it. I kind of favoured a community sustainability committee, but ultimately at the end of the day it’s being seen as environmental advisory committee.”
On March 1 the town’s Committee of the Whole passed a motion to recommend to council the approval of a policy establishing the environmental advisory committee. Macdonald expects council will approve the recommendation on March 19 at its regular meeting and the committee will be formed.
The committee will have one councillor on it and the rest will be four or five members of the public with the mayor as ex officio.
The committee would provide pro-active measures, educate, promote, provide feedback and recommendations on environmental issues related to sustainability, advocacy, and stewardship within the Town of Annapolis Royal. It would also review and update the town’s existing climate change document annually.
“You can see, certainly, that the whole plan is to start doing some heavy lifting, not wait for the next administration, or the next administration,” said Macdonald. “We all recognize that tides are rising. Those of us living in town see the surges -- that they’ve increased, that they’re significant. We as a community that’s been here for 400-plus years have experienced the ravages of fire. Modern fire protection has ensured that won’t happen the way it happened in the past, but our new threat, and our most significant threat now and in the future, is water. There is nothing that an old wooden building hates more than water.”
Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill Macdonald has a 1753 map in his office that shows the Town of Annapolis Royal as it was almost three centuries ago. The town, like many coastal communities, is facing the effects of sea level rise. Mitigating those effects is something the town is contemplating.