HALIFAX – Ottawa is spending $42 million on 27 small craft harbours across Nova Scotia, aimed in part at helping them recover and prepare for the threat of climate change.
Scott Brison, president of the Treasury Board and a Nova Scotia MP, says some of the money will be used to fix storm damage and build or repair structures like breakwaters to help prevent major destruction.
“We’re seeing more damages from the increased frequency and severity of storms,” said Brison in a phone interview Friday. “Clearly, Mother Nature and the forces of climate change are impacting the resilience of our harbour facilities.”
Small craft harbours are critical to the commercial fishing industry, the government says. The money will also be spent on wharves, dredging and containment cells.
Ottawa will name the harbours getting funding next week, and one south shore mayor is hoping his town will be on that list.
Liverpool has seen the damaging effects of climate change firsthand: parts of the town were under several inches of water after three intense storm surges last winter, prompting temporary closures and repeated cleanups of businesses and shops along Water Street.
“We’ve had a number of high-surge tides in recent years, and they’re more frequent and with higher elevation,” said Mayor David Dagley in a phone interview.
“Our sea wall has been breached a number of times, water enters the stores, and it’s a major aggravation for business owners and an inconvenience for local citizens.”
Dagley said he’s concerned the problem will only get worse if they don’t get help, and he fears businesses not previously affected by the creeping water will start to feel the effects as flood levels are expected to rise.
The municipality is looking for a consultant to assess the damage and how much it will cost to fix, and Dagley said they’re exploring other avenues to get the money they need to do the repairs and help prevent future floods.
“This needs to be resolved,” he said.
Brison noted Ottawa launched the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund last year to help communities handle environmental disasters, and he hopes the new small harbour infrastructure funding will help the province prepare for the future.
The $42 million will be spent over the next three years.
The money is part of a nationwide program to keep harbours across Canada in good condition, with plans to spend $250 million over the next two years to renew small craft harbours across the country.
“There is a need to invest and improve harbour facilities across Canada and in Nova Scotia,” said Brison. “The value of the exports of our fisheries industry is massive, and to harvest our fish and seafood and to export it, we need safe, secure harbour facilities.”