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Municipal Climate Adaptation

While climate change is an urgent global issue, the impacts are often felt locally.

 Below you’ll find a collection of tangible ideas and resources designed to assist you in adapting to a changing climate both in and around your home.

Resources

Municipal Climate Action Initiative Toolkit

How Climate Change Impacts Nova Scotia

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Temperature fluctuation

In Nova Scotia, climate change is expected to bring warmer than average temperatures and greater fluctuations in our average highs and lows. This has the potential to threaten vulnerable populations with heatwaves, damage agriculture outputs, cause droughts and even strengthen coastal storms.

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Sea Level Rise

Nova Scotia is a peninsula with no point within the province further than 60 kilometres from one of three major bodies of water — which are all expected to rise by around 1 metre by 2100. Not only will the base sea level rise along our coasts, but it will also enable storm surges to reach further inland.

Nova Scotians are already working on adaptation strategies, which include:

  • Coastal setback policies
  • Armoured shorelines
  • Living shorelines
  • Dykes & Levees
  • Seawalls
  • Breakwaters
  • Coastal restoration projects & retention of existing coastal marshes 

If you or someone you know is concerned about the impact of sea level rise on their home or community please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!

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Extreme Storm Events

Most climate models show that Nova Scotians can start to expect more frequent and more extreme storm events. Specifically, this will entail higher temperatures, colder “snaps”, as well as intense rainfall events.

In Nova Scotia scientists are still unsure as to whether we will see more hurricanes but are certain we will see stronger hurricanes with greater impacts fueled by higher sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures.

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Flooding & Flood Management

Flooding has always occurred in many parts of Nova Scotia – this is largely due to our series of our historical and continued settlement along river valleys, flood plains and coastal areas. However, as we’ve continued to build non-permeable infrastructure like asphalt, pavements and concretes – we are continually eroding the natural landscape’s ability to absorb water.

Furthermore, as climate change alters our storm and rainfall patterns even built infrastructure like stormwater management systems are becoming unable to properly contain and process the sheer volumes of stormwater, riverine flooding and coastal flooding.

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Drought

Drought is a long period of abnormally low rainfall leading to a shortage of water – in the case of Nova Scotia, this adversely affects those with groundwater wells.

Although droughts can have many different causes – most scientists across Canada and globally have linked more intense droughts to climate change. With the rainfall patterns changing it can have the adverse effect of drying out and killing vegetation and then dousing barren areas with heavy rains – which in turn leads to more flooding due to the soils and vegetation being unavailable to hold, store and use the water.

Climate Adaptation & Mitigation

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Flood Prevention for New Homes

With water levels becoming increasingly unpredictable, coastal properties are some of the most dangerous places to build. If you are already built along the water’s edge here are a few ideas on how to lessen the impacts that flooding may have.

Evaluate the risk your home may be facing by consulting flood plain maps. If your home can not be found on the flood plain map consider seeking advice from neighbours, previous owners or members of your community to ask for “word of mouth” history of flooding in the area.

If your home is deemed to be vulnerable there are a series of actions you can take to flood-proof your home. These include but are not limited to the following actions that range from expensive and complex to simple DIY style projects.

Raising your Home's Foundation

Although this is the most expensive option – it is simply put that raising your house raises its flood level. In many areas even a few inches of rain can cause significant damage – therefore even raising the home a few inches above flood level could save you significant damages down the road.

Installing Basement Sump Pump
Sump pumps are a popular and cost-effective method of removing water from basements. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and at a variety of costs. We recommend purchasing one with a battery backup as the extreme weather events that may cause flooding will often knock out your power too.
Applying Coatings & Sealants
Also known as “dry proofing” there are several varieties of sealants and coatings you can apply to basements and any cracks in your home that can prevent water from entering. Although this method is not 100% effective – when used in combination with others it can certainly help.
Raising Electrical Outlets & Switches
Anything that might “short out” in the event of a flood should be raised at least a few feet above flood levels – this can protect not only against flood damage but also against house fires and widespread electrical damage.
Installing Valves on Pipes

Ensure that any pipes entering your house have valves to prevent flooded sewage systems from backing up and re-entering your house.

Grade Landscape Away from the Home
This tip is as simple as using natural landscaping to ensure that water flows away and not towards your house – bonus points if you direct the water into an existing bioswale, rain garden or other stormwater management system.
Point Downspouts Away from Home
Ensure your storm gutter run-off is pointed away and not towards your house. A good way to check if they are effective is to walk around your house in a heavy rain event. You may get drenched, but it will give you a good idea of where the water is heading on your property.
Allow your property to retain natural features
Allowing your property to retain natural features like trees, ponds, wetlands is one of the most effective measures of local flood control. Natural features not only capture and store stormwater, but they also “grow” in capacity over the years and require very little maintenance.
Rain garden, bio-swales and cisterns
Rain gardens can come in many shapes and sizes yet in their basic principle are designed to capture and use rainfall in your garden or on your property before it burdens the storm sewer system. Creating a rain garden is easy and surprisingly effective in managing water on your property – to create one you need to dig or excavate a slight depression, ensure it is filled with permeable soil (almost anything but clay) and then plant water-tolerant grasses, shrubs, berries and cattails or stones, logs or other natural elements that will slow down and help retain the water. Cisterns and rain barrels have a similar concept (slowing down or stopping stormwater from entering the municipal stormwater system) but are often attached directly to the downspouts of your home. These can at times be used in tandem with rain gardens/bioswales to help manage some of the excess water collected.
Backup power source
A backup power source or “emergency power system” is designed to keep core electricity running in your house during an emergency event. Backup power comes in many forms including batteries, generators and other forms and should always be installed and maintained by a knowledgeable professional.
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Active Transportation

Active transportation like biking, walking, running and other forms of non-motorized transport are not only excellent ways to keep in shape but can also significantly reduce your personal carbon emissions as well as hazardous and climate change related air pollutions.

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Renewable Energy

Another more direct way to mitigate your contribution to climate change is to switch your home’s power sources to renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal or other combinations.

Using renewables to power your home can in some cases reduce or even eliminate your utility bills – plus the tax and rebate incentives available through the province of Nova Scotia, Efficiency Nova Scotia, Clean Foundation and others can help make the installation and financing of the systems more affordable.

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Solar Power

Solar panels on rooftops are probably the most recognizable form of home-based renewable energy and depending on the location and orientation of your home may be able to generate 10 or more watts per square foot of installation, where a typical Canadian house uses at least a kilowatt of power a few square feet of solar panels should be enough to power most if not all of your needs!

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Solar Batteries & Power Walls

The idea behind systems like this is that the batteries or power banks can be charged with solar power or via the traditional grid system if you choose to have it as a backup source. It’s like a giant rechargeable battery, but for your home. With power banks you can: 

  • Use the power at low peak hours to reduce your electrical load and cost
  • Run your entire home’s system from the battery, especially at night or during a power disruption when you can’t fully rely on direct solar electricity.

If you are curious about your home’s capacity for solar power – check out solarassist.ca

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Clean Foundation is a charity that relies on funding and grants to make our communities greener and more sustainable. We could use your help. Donations of over $20 are eligible for a charitable donation tax receipt.

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