Municipality of the County of Kings Climate Adaptation

To plan for climate change, including an increase in frost free growing days, severe weather and potential for flooding, the Municipality of the County of Kings in Nova Scotia developed a Climate Change Adaptation Plan in 2011 through the Kings 2050 project. Kings County is situated on Nova Scotia’s northwestern shore, bounded by the Bay of Fundy to the north, the Minas Basin to the east, Hants and Lunenburg Counties to the south and Annapolis County to the west. The Municipality of the County of Kings has a population of approximately 60,600 and is the third most populous county in Nova Scotia. Kings County has significant agricultural and ecological resources to protect as we encourage new residential, industrial and commercial development. The Municipality is proud to be a part of the “Land of Orchards, Vineyards and Tides”, which is Nova Scotia’s richest agricultural region and accounts for more than 30% of total agricultural value in the Province. The nature of the settlement pattern of the county means that the vast majority of its citizens, its infrastructure and industry are located in close proximity to water, either one the many rivers and streams or the Minas Basin. Because of resourced based industries such as agriculture, forestry and fishing, and the fact that many residents live near water, climate change is a very real concern in the Municipality. While there may be upsides for some segments of these industries, such as an increase in frost free growing days, severe weather, erosion, prolonged periods of drought, the potential for flooding, among others, are very much in the forefront as issues that need to be understood, and prepared for. As part of the Kings 2050 project, a Climate Change Adaptation Plan was developed for Kings County.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

Kings County is already experiencing the impacts of climate change in six particular areas: coastal flooding, inland flooding, sea level rise, storm surge, infrastructure saltwater intrusion, and erosion. For instance, due to saltwater intrusion, the Municipality has spent between 2 and 3 million dollars in the last several years extending municipal water services to the community of Kingsport. Climate change is only expected to worsen. The Nova Scotia Department of Environment estimates that temperatures in Kings County could be, on average, 3°C warmer by 2050 than in the 1990s. This means milder winters and hotter summers. It is also estimated that precipitation in the area could increase by up to 12 percent by 2050, but that the increase will come in the form of less-frequent, more-violent weather events. Finally, there is likely to be an increase of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and blizzards. Climate change will have implications in areas of agriculture, forest composition, wetlands, soils and erosion. For instance, Increased precipitation and a warmer climate will have an impact on both natural and introduced vegetation. Some native species of trees may be unable to adapt and could enter a period of decline. High value softwood trees such as spruce and fir may be especially vulnerable. However, the effects of climate change will not be completely negative. As Kings County warms, there could be an increase of up to 30 growing days by 2050 and fall harvesting will become easier. It is also likely that the range of crops grown in Kings County could be expanded to include less hardy crops, such as certain varieties of grapes and more diverse fruits and vegetables. However, pest insect larvae that are normally killed by cold winter temperatures may survive through the winter as temperatures rise. As the incidences of pests grow, so too could pesticide use.

Identifying Actions

In the fall of 2011, the Municipality and the three towns in Kings County signed a memorandum of understanding to work collaboratively to on a project entitled Kings 2050. The purpose of this project is to guide the long term sustainable development of the region. One key outcome of Kings 2050 is a regional Climate Change Action Plan. The Kings 2050 outcomes are intended to be completed in stages. The shared outcomes will be completed first, starting with the Shared Vision and Goals approximately one year into the project, with the partner specific outcomes completed in later stages. The Kings 2050 initiative is supported by the Atlantic Climate Adaptation Solutions Association (ACAS) – a partnership among the provincial governments of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick, and regional stakeholders including nonprofits, tribal governments, and industry.

Implementation

A list of adaptation inputs and activities are included in the case study. For example: Develop awareness and capacity to manage climate change adaptation issues (coastal impacts, dyke management, saltwater intrusion, and infrastructure at risk) in Minas Basin communities. Test and roll out of the provincial guidelines for producing municipal climate adaptation action plans (MCCAP). Study of coastal geomorphology and sensitivity of coastlines to change (erosion and sedimentation) within 2 targeted coastal community areas within the bay of Fundy – Minas Basin, Chignecto Isthmus. Draft a regional issue paper on ‘Dykelands’ related to climate change adaptation.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

With support through the ACAS program, the project has served a valuable function in identifying items that must be addressed in the Kings 2050 initiative. The information that ACAS has already gathered will provide a head start on the MCCAP and the background information needed to consider changes to municipal regulations and programs through Kings 2050.