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POLL: Time and tides: Climate change a real concern for municipalities

The community of Ramea.
The community of Ramea. - Contributed

Ramea and Isle aux Morts weigh in on ongoing debate

SOUTHWEST COAST, N.L.

When it comes to climate change, so far Isle aux Morts hasn’t felt any real impact.

“It has not had an effect on Isle aux Morts at this time,” says Mayor Nelson Lillington, who notes that council is aware of the issue. “It is something that town council is thinking of, but we do not have anything in the works at this time.”

But for the island community of Ramea, the town council there has already had to address the reality of the impact of climate change.

In 2016 the town suffered a significant saltwater breach into its reservoir system along a stretch of beach that had eroded due to higher than normal wave activity. In response, the town built a seawall to help protect the reservoir from future breaches.

“Climate change and erosion are certainly affecting our community,” confirmed Mayor Clyde Dominie via email. “We have seen heavier seas due to weather systems with higher sustained wind conditions.

“Before this event, the town had identified two more problems areas that were reinforced with armor stone to prevent further erosion. Also, in several areas we have had to move our walking trail back from the ocean due to bank and beach erosion.

Dominie says council doesn’t currently have a specific plan in place, but the town is constantly checking areas of concern to monitor erosion.

  • POLL RESULTS
  • Are you worried about coastal erosion and climate change in your town?
  • Yes: 49 per cent
  • Maybe: 12 per cent
  • No: 20 per cent
  • I don’t believe in climate change: 20 per cent

But while towns deal with the effects of climate change on their communities as a whole, it can be trickier for individuals.

Jason Pearce is a contractor living in Cape Ray who has dealt with the effect of wind and water damage on homes built too close to the sea.

“You’re not going to stop water,” he admits, adding that to truly save a house there is really only a single option. “Just move the house. It’s all they’d ever done back in the old days.”

Other measures would likely just delay the inevitable.

“If the tide is rising a lot,” he says. “Now you can put shores down and build her (a home) higher, but that’s it.”

But if the ocean level projections are accurate, eventually even that might not be enough to save a home.

“You’re still going to get the same thing,” he said.

Pearce is well aware of the effect of climate change on the future of the construction industry in Newfoundland. His best advice is to simply build elsewhere or to purchase a home well back from the shoreline.

“They’re saying the water’s going to rise again, higher and higher every year,” he said.

Over the coming weeks, The Gulf News will be investigating how climate change is affecting the area and how people and communities are preparing for it. If you have a story or opinion to share on this issue, please email rosalyn.roy@gulfnews.ca.

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