Coastal Living - NS's Ocean Playground - Living gently on the coast

Published 20 May 14 05:57 AM | Merv Edinger 

Nova Scotia's 13,000 kms of coastline is highly valued for many reasons: social, cultural, economic, tourism, recreation, sport, communication, real estate, transport, renewable energy, offshore oil & gas,  fisheries, aquaculture & ecological benefits. With approximately 70% of our population living along the coast, we all need to better understand the factors that influence the development near our coasts to ensure that it is done sustainably, with little harm to our coastal enviroment & how we as home owners can do our part to protect them for future generations as well.

The Halifax Regional Municipalit,Colchester, Pictou, Antigonish & Yarmouth counties & the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are the most developed coastal areas. 80% of the land, much of whioch is privately owned, adjacent to the coastal areas remains undeveloped & 86% of the coast line is privately owned. Nova Scotia saw a dramatic increase in the development of coastal lands for residential use from 1948-2000. Properties with ocean frontage have a perceived higher value & sell for $100,000 or more than similar lots without ocean frontage ( data is from 2009 ).  Even having an ocean or lake view adds value to a property of at least $25,000.

When it comes to protecting our coasts, it is not solely the responsibilty of home owners, businesses & industry that are located on the coast.  As you know, all freshwater streams, brooks, rivers & lakes eventually make their way to the ocean.  Even if your property does not lie next to such a waterway, the storm water that runs off your roof, across your lawn, down your driveway all ends up back in the ocean.  There is some government legislation in place to help protect our coasts & oceans: Municipal Government Act, Halifax Regional Municipality Charter, Canadian Enviromental Assessment Act, Nova Scotia Enviromental Act, Fisheries & Coastal Resources Act, Crown Lands Act, &  the Fisheries Act.  

So what means can we, as home owners take to protect our coasts, the oceans, marine life & all the benefits we enjoy from them? There are some easy ones:

  • Composting - keeps our landfills down reducing the potential run off from them.  If you use compost in your own landscaping, it will reduce weeds & the water required to maintain a healthy landscape as well as absorbs rain water to slow down storm water run off.
  • Use a rain barrel & or rain chains - rain water collected in the barrels ca be used to water your garens/landscape.  Rain chains slow the force of rain water as it comes down from your gutters, reducing erosion, allowing more of the rain to be absorbed into the soil.


  • Use indigenous plants in your landscape which are more disease & pest resistant, often require less care & water than non indigenous species. An even better practice is to leave a naturally wild vegetative buffer on your property, particuliarly if you live along side any form of watercourse. They protect against erosion, provide habitat for wildlife, filter water, & stabilize the shoreline. It is recommended to keep the edge of your lawn at least 15 m ( 50 feet ) from the edge of the shoreline.
  • Do not use chemical fertilizers nor pesticides. There are safe alternatives.
  • Do not use/limit the use of hardscaped in your landscaping such as concrete & pavement. They prevent rain/storm water from being absorbed by the soil & adds to the storm water that then requires treatment. Use permeable pavers or pervious asphalt instead such as interlocking stones that allow water to seep between the pavers or gravel.


  • Take proper care of your septic system if you do not have municipal services. Pump out your system every 3 or so years. Avoid using toxic chemicals. Use phosphate-free soaps & detergents.  Septic systems must be at least 30.5 m from all wetlands.
  • Build you residence/cottage/structures a minimum of 30m ( 100 feet ) from the shore of bank, preferably on higher ground safe from flooding & wave damage.
  • Mulch grass clippings instead of raking your lawn.  It adds needed nutrients back into the soil.
  • maintain drainage systems & ditches
  • Bioswale & raingardens are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. They consist of a swaled drainage course with gently sloped sides (less than six percent) and filled with vegetation, compost and/or riprap.[1]:19 The water's flow path, along with the wide and shallow ditch, is designed to maximize the time water spends in the swale, which aids the trapping of pollutants and silt. Depending upon the geometry of land available, a bioswale may have a meandering or almost straight channel alignment. Biological factors also contribute to the breakdown of certain pollutants.



  • Create infiltration trenchs ( aka french drains ) to prevent flooding & allow rain/storm water to be reabsorbed into the water table in areas of your yard where there is heavy clay & rain water is slow to absorb. 
  • Consider using a green roof if you are building a new home, shed, gazebo.
  • Do not litter!
  • Recycle!
  • when visiting the shorelines, respect the vegetation & wildlife that lives there. 
  • Keep shorelines "soft". Maintain the natural shorelines & dunes. Avoid using hard materials like rock or cement as armour against erosion as it actually encourages further erosion. See the Ecology Action Center'sd Living Shorelines for more information on managing coastal erosion.
  • Avoid building docks. They negatively affect natural sand & water movement & can actually increase erosion. Floating removal docks are a better option.
  • Set aside foot traffic free zones on beaches & dunes to limit the disturbance to wildlife & the protective plants that hold the sand dunes in place.
  • Do not remove all the eelgrass. Eelgrass is the only underwater rooted plant known to grow in Nova Scotia.  It helps protect our shores from erosion, provides nursery habitat for fish, & creates a natural buffer for diminishing the energy of wave action.  Unfortunately the non indigenous introduction  through shipping of the green crab has threatened eelgrass & is already having a major inpact on some of Nova Scotia's coastlines such as those in Malagash.


  • If your propertry is on a bank overlooking the water, plant vegetation directly into the bank slope to help prevent erosion.  For a list of recommended salt-tolerant native plant species, visit
  • Protect native plants
  • May through August, walk on wet sand as many shore birds, including the endangered Piping Plover, lay their camouflaged eggs on dry open sand between the high tide mark & the sand dunes & are vulnerable to human & beloved pets' foot traffic. If you happen along a Piping Plover nest, report it to  Please respect the marked nests. Although curious, disturbing the nest could lead the parents to abandon them.  Take care to walk around insterad of through such nesting or feeding areas, not just for birds but also of the seals & other wildlife.


  • Do not drive motorized vehicles on beaches & sand dunes & report those who are violating.  Violators can be fined upto $2000. To report violators, call the NS Department of Natural Resources hotline 1(800)565-2224.
  • For more recommendations, read Healthy Beaches & Dunes for Tomorrow: A Stewardship Guide for Nova Scotia Landowners.

Information Resources: Wikipedia, Ecology Action Center, NS Natural Resources, Parks Canada,, Halifax Regional Municipality, Halifax Water, Nova Scotia Government, Insurance Bureau of Canada, Enviroment Canada,,



Posted by

Halifax homes for sale - Remax Nova Real estate

Merv Edinger & Associates

Associate broker

Remax Nova

Merv Edinger & Associates (Remax Nova)

Comment Notification

Subscribe to this post's comments using RSS


# Kerri said on July 14, 2015 3:19 AM:

It is recognized as a powerhouse as it may produce numerous nutrients essential for the body's

normal functioning. Try wearing a pedometer and measuring the volume of steps you are

taking every day, looking to accumulate more from the current average.

We are really excited to understand the items we can easily use,

what type works fast, and what has to be implemented

to execute and maintain it.

Leave a Comment


This Blog