Flooding problems won’t recede in Atlantic Canada: experts

HALIFAX – The message Thursday at the 2015 Atlantic Flood Management Conference in Truro was simple: people in the region need to adapt.

Government officials, academics and members of environmental organizations gathered to share their experiences and expertise on the subject of flooding.

Keynote speaker Bob Sandford, who serves as Canadian chair of the United Nations Water for Life initiative, said the Atlantic provinces can expect to see more flooding in the future.

READ MORE: Nova Scotians affected by recent flooding could get financial help

“We’re going to be living with these types of adaptive changes indefinitely until we stabilize the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere,” he said. “What we have to do is manage land use, land cover, the way we manage our municipalities, to reduce the effect of the flooding.”

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The town of Truro  is no stranger the phenomenon. In September 2012, torrential rains across Nova Scotia led to widespread flooding in the area. Since then, the municipality has been doing a lot of work to shore up its storm water management.

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Andrew MacKinnon, director of public works for Truro, said the area saw two “hundred-year floods” within days of each other three years ago.

“Climate change is happening. We’re going to have to deal with more and more flooding, and there’s really no such thing as putting in large enough pipes to deal with the storms coming,” he said.

Truro isn’t the only area in Nova Scotia that has seen flooding lately. In December, the Halifax area saw flooding that caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to dozens of homes and businesses.

As a coastal region, Nova Scotia is particularly vulnerable to flooding and the fallout from climate change.

Will Green, who works for the Nova Scotia Department of Environment, said officials are seeing flooding in some areas of the province now where they haven’t in the past. He said although flooding is a natural process that needs to occur, it can be managed better.

“There’s a lot that we can do through planning and through infrastructure development, especially in areas where we have critical infrastructure that we need to protect,” he said.

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Nova Scotia isn’t the only province in the region to be feeling the effects of flooding. A state of emergency was declared in Sussex Corner, N.B., last April after heavy rains and ice-jam flooding left 70 per cent of the village underwater.

According to Sanford, we need to adapt to these situations and expect more intense weather events.

“We’re going to be living with this for a very, very long time,” he said. “The relative stability of the climate we enjoyed over the last century is now gone and will not return during the lifetime of anyone alive today.”

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