Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Better storm planning studied in New Brunswick

James Foster in the Times & Transcript (New Brunswick): The growing frequency of big storms, sea surges and erosion has prompted a university professor to study how rules and laws can help prevent harm to New Brunswickers and their property. Dr. Mike Fox, head of the geography and environment department at Mount Allison University, has received funding from the province's Environmental Trust Fund to find out what are the barriers to implementing climate change adaptation plans.

It's a simple case of old legislation not meeting modern needs, Fox said, noting that the Community Planning Act, which is the key legislation governing planning in the province, dates back to 1973, long before most of us ever heard of climate change or storm surges and before anyone even imagined the need for personal household windmills or green roofs that keep buildings cool.

And as New Brunswickers found out in December when the province was lashed by a series of fierce storms that in succession caused widespread damage to homes and other buildings in the southwest, southeast and northeast, dangerous storms are no longer something you only read about in news reports from faraway lands.

"There will be a real threat to people and property along the coast as climate changes continue to play out," Fox said. "Sea levels will continue to rise and there will be increased and more intense storm surges, flooding and coastal erosion."

Under the old rules, any construction must be 30 metres inland from the shore, and even this regulation is subject to exception. Fox said this might not be enough, and present legislation does not allow for local planning legislation and flexibility in land-use regulations. Anyone who lives here knows that New Brunswickers love living near the coast - more than 60 per cent of us do exactly that, living within 50 kilometres or about 30 miles of the shore, and the number grows every year....

Grand Summer, Grand Manan, by Alfred Thompson Bricher (1837-1908)

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