Much of the work being done in Truro, Nova Scotia is in response to a fall 2012 major flood event which breached local dykes and forced the evacuation of a nearby high school. Those organizations affiliated with the Making Room for Wetlands – spearheaded by St. Mary’s University (SMU) and CB Wetlands and Environmental Specialists (CBWES) – partially relied on flood risk assessment data previously modeled by a local engineering and consulting company. These organizations also considered aspects such as site history, hydrology, and various draft dyke designs. Further, project leads went about extensive community consultation as well as forming a Marsh Body through the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture. These steps aided in encouraging public participation and increasing agency. While a formal cost/benefit analysis was not conducted, decisions were made with an eye towards cost effectiveness and financial sustainability. The study notes that while the extent to which alterations to existing dykes positively affect adaptive capacity has yet to be determined, business as usual would have seen an increase in flood events and necessity for ever-larger engineering interventions. This case faced a variety of challenges including a lack of historical flood data, jurisdictional ambiguity, and barriers related to funding access. Despite the above complications, Truro ultimately prevailed in creating a dyke management plan thanks in large part to strong communication and extensive public consultation.
Making Room for Wetlands is an ongoing initiative (as of 2020) spearheaded by St. Mary’s University and the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture along with others to address flood risks in multiple communities along the Bay of Fundy by realigning existing hard infrastructure. Existing hard infrastructure including dykes and aboiteaux have proven costly to maintain and ineffective in providing protection from intensifying flood events and storm surges. In order to ensure future adaptive capacity that is economically viable, dykes may be shortened and/or repositioned along with the removal and/or repositioning of aboiteaux. These actions will work to deliberately flood portions of previously drained lands in order to restore naturally occurring salt marshes. These marshes work as a natural defense to flooding by retaining rainwater and buffering storm surges. The goal of the Making Room for Wetlands initiative is to provide a road map in order to guide future projects of a similar nature around the province. Until now, efforts to address coastal flood risks around the Province have been mired by jurisdictional confusion creating grey areas and exposing policy gaps.Read the Full Story