I live in a coastal area. What does this mean for me?

    The new regulations may impact where and how you can build, particularly if you own property close to the water, in a low-lying area or near a coastal wetland or other environmental feature. You can visit the Interactive Map on Engage MODL to see what regulations may apply to your specific property.

    Has MODL asked the Province of Nova Scotia for a moratorium on coastal development until regulations can be created and implemented?

    Yes. The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg sent a letter to the provincial government requesting a moratorium on coastal development until municipal regulations could be implemented. However, the request was declined by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

    Will the coastal development regulations apply to existing structures? (ex. I built my house in 2002, will the regulations apply?)

    Pre-existing structures will be grandfathered and will only be required to follow certain coastal regulations. For example, the proposed regulations allow non-conforming uses to undergo renovations, rebuilding, relocation, and replacement. Please refer to the Municipal Wide Land Use By-law for more information. 

    New developments in coastal areas will be required to follow coastal regulations to ensure that they are designed and constructed to minimize the impact on the coastal environment and reduce the risk of damage from natural hazards such as coastal flooding and erosion. 

    How will you ensure compliance with the regulations?

    With the new regulations, properties within the Designated Coastal Protection Area must apply to obtain a development permit as well as a building permitA development officer will review the application tdetermine whether the proposed structure complies with the regulations. A building permit will not be issued until a development permit is issued.

    Do you have the capacity internally to handle the increase in demand for development permits?

    Yes. Several staff members are being trained to support the development officer in processing development permits. We are prepared to maintain an efficient and high-quality service 

    Will the coastal development regulations apply to freshwater shorelines (ex. Lakes, rivers, streams)?

    No, the coastal development regulations will only apply to coastal areas on the ocean.

    Why are sea walls or rock armouring less effective than a living shoreline?

    Sea walls are typically constructed with hard materials such as concrete or rock and are designed to hold back the water and protect the shoreline from erosion. While they may provide some level of protection, they are less effective than a living shoreline because they do not work with the natural dynamics of coastal ecosystems. Seawalls can increase erosion by deflecting wave energy and causing it to be concentrated in certain areas, including on adjacent properties. Sea walls also prevent the natural movement of sand and sediment along the shoreline, which can result in the loss of beaches and other critical coastal habitats.


    A living shoreline is a natural and sustainable approach to coastal protection that works with the natural processes of coastal ecosystems. Living shorelines typically consist of a combination of vegetation, natural materials such as oyster shells or coconut fibre logs, and other structures designed to reduce erosion and provide habitat for aquatic life. They also provide other benefits, such as improving water quality, enhancing biodiversity, and absorbing and storing carbon. Overall, living shorelines are a more effective and environmentally conscious alternative to sea walls for the purpose of coastal protection.

    For more information about living shorelines please email us at planning@modl.ca or visit:


    Why are coastal development regulations important?

    Coastal protection regulations are important for several reasons. Regulations help to protect human lives and property from the damaging effects of coastal hazards such as storms, flooding, erosion, and sea level rise. By regulating development in vulnerable areas, and requiring appropriate building standards, coastal protection regulations can help to reduce the risk of property damage and loss of life due to coastal hazards.

    Coastal protection regulations are essential for preserving natural ecosystems and the ecological functions they provide such as erosion control, water filtration, and wildlife habitat. Regulations also benefit the economic vitality of coastal communities by supporting tourism, recreation, and other industries that rely on coastal natural resources like beaches and fisheries. Furthermore, coastal protection regulations promote economic stability and resilience by reducing the risk of property damage and loss of life from coastal hazards.


    Coastal protection regulations not only benefit the environment and the economy, but they also help to protect the social and cultural fabric of coastal communities. Many coastal communities have a strong sense of identity and connection to their natural surroundings, including their beaches, wetlands, and other coastal features. Coastal protection regulations can help to preserve and protect these areas, which are often important to the cultural heritage and traditions of the community.

    How will the coastal development regulations affect property values?

    Municipalities do not determine property values. Property values assessment in Nova Scotia are assessed by Property Valuation Services Corporation (PVSC). PVSC provides property assessment services and information for Nova Scotia’s municipalities and property owners in accordance with the Nova Scotia Assessment Act. However, some research indicates that Coastal regulations can impact property values positively. Regulations that protect natural beauty and ecological health can enhance property values. Balancing environmental protection with responsible growth is important to maintain stable property values and a thriving local economy.

    Can the coastal development regulations impact my insurance coverage?

    Insurance companies consider various factors when assessing the risk of insuring coastal properties, including the potential for damage from natural hazards such as coastal flooding, hurricanes, and erosion, regardless of existing or non-existing regulations. Homeowners should always consult with their individual insurance companies to ensure they have proper coverage and protection from any potential risks they may face when living on the coast. 

    What other measures can I take to learn more about protecting my waterfront property?

    The ClimAtlantic Coastal Adaptation Toolkit is an online platform that provides a range of resources and tools to support coastal protection and adaptation efforts in the Atlantic region. The purpose of the Coastal Adaptation Toolkit is to assist rural coastal communities and property owners in the Atlantic region with planning for the impacts of climate change. It is particularly suitable for those who are facing issues related to coastal erosion and flooding over short and long periods of time. The toolkit aims to increase awareness among communities, decision-makers, and property owners about their coastal environment, the various adaptation options that are available, and how these options can be applied under different circumstances.

    The toolkit comprises two online tools - one for Communities and one for Property Owners - as well as a companion resource that contains three guidance documents. 


    The toolkit is freely available online and can be accessed at


    What about boathouses, fish shacks and other uses that need access to the water?

    The new regulations have exemptions for uses that depend on water access, such as boathouses, fish shacks, fish plants or boat repair businesses. For the comprehensive list of non-habitable accessory uses, please click the link for the proposed Municipal-Wide Land Use Bylaw.

    I live in an area with an existing Land Use By-law. Which rules will apply?

    Riverport and District, Prince's Inlet and Area, and Oakland have Secondary Planning Strategies and Land Use By-laws in effect that include coastal regulations, including horizontal and vertical (elevation) setbacks. The most stringent of the rules apply. In some cases, this may be the new coastal regulations.

    Will the Coastal Development regulations impact access to the coast?

    We are aware that access to the coast is an important issue for communities throughout MODL. However, this project does not directly address concerns around coastal access. Generally, anywhere on the coast below the mean high-water mark is Crown Land which is owned by the province and is open to the public. However, there are some cases where property owners may own the property below the high-water mark which makes access a provincial or legal matter.  

    Are the coastal regulations in effect currently?

    The coastal regulations are temporarily in effect as of May 15, 2024. If the regulations are not passed by Council in a second reading within 150 days of the first notice of Council's intent to adopt the regulations, the Municipality’s Municipal Planning Strategy will revert to status quo and the coastal regulations will no longer be in effect 

    What if there are roads near me that are at risk for coastal flooding and erosion?

    Whoever owns the road (e.g., Province, Municipality, individual [private]) will dictate who is responsible for maintaining or protecting the road from future coastal flooding or erosion. 

    Do I need a permit to install armour rock along my shoreline?

    Property owners wishing to install a hard barriersuch as armour rock or a seawall, along their shoreline should contact the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources to confirm any permits needed: 

    312 Green Street 
    Lunenburg, NS 
    B0J 2C0 
    Phone: 902-634-7555 
    e-mail: DNR-lunenburg-office@novascotia.ca  

    What is MODL doing about climate change?

    In 2019, the Municipality acknowledged the climate crisis's urgency and officially declared a climate emergency. In line with this commitment, the Municipality developed the Local Climate Change Action Plan 2030, a comprehensive strategic roadmap for the next decade. The plan's primary objective is to facilitate the Municipality's transition towards achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. It aims to foster a climate-resilient environment, promote overall well-being, and cultivate a sustainable future for the community.

    The Local Climate Change Action Plan is available online and can be accessed at


    What is the Coastal Erosion Area?

    The Coastal Erosion Risk Area is applied along the MODL coastline because these areas are considered prone to erosion. These areas are vulnerable to the gradual loss of land due to natural forces like geological conditions, lack of vegetation, waves, and tides.

    The proposed Coastal Erosion Risk Area represents an area within 30 horizontal metres from the coast. This area is designed to safeguard properties within the structure’s lifetime from risks associated with erosion and preserve coastal ecosystems. It is designed as an overlay approach where some areas experience higher or lower erosion rates. 

    What is the Coastal Flood Risk Area?

    The proposed Flood Risk Area delineates areas along the coastline which are most at risk of coastal flooding due to tide levels, sea level rise and storm surges. It shows areas that may be either permanently or temporarily inundated by water by the year 2100. Policies that apply to these areas are designed to help safeguard residents and developments from the risks posed by coastal flooding.

    What is the Vegetative Buffer?

    The Vegetative Buffer represents a strip of land situated between the edge of the coastline and areas further inland that is intended to serve as a naturalized buffer that protects the natural functions of the coast and shoreline from potential impacts of development. This area is important because it helps prevent erosion along the coast, filters run-off and provides key habitat for wildlife.

    What are Sensitive Coastal Ecosystems?

    Sensitive Coastal Ecosystems such as wetlands form an interdependent and intricate system. Their sensitivity to development pressure is notable. These environments provide essential functions such as coastal protection and serve as habitats for diverse plant and animal species. Human actions like development can disrupt wetland habitats and hinder their crucial ecological roles.

    What counts as a vegetated buffer? How dense does it need to be?

    According to the By-law, a vegetated buffer means a designated strip of land containing a mix of species including trees, shrubs and grasses, whether naturally occurring or planted during restoration, that provides filtration of pollutants and sediment, and promotes bank stability as a means to protect water quality and habitat of all waterbodies and watercourses and protects property from flooding and erosion. There is no specific density requirement because the natural vegetation on every property is unique.  


    How did you determine the 3.97 m vertical elevation setback for the Coastal Flood Risk Area and why didn’t you just round up to 4 m?

    The 3.97 m vertical elevation setback is a specific number that was calculated using three values: sea level rise projected for the year 2100, storm surge, and the high higher water large tide. We decided not to round up to 4 m to ensure that all the numbers in the regulations directly relate to the science-based evidence we reviewed. 

    How do I know where to measure from to meet the erosion risk setback?

    The erosion risk setback is measured from the top of the bank on your property. If there is no obvious top of bank, the erosion risk setback is measured from the ordinary high watermark. The ordinary high watermark must be identified by a Nova Scotia land surveyor. A list of certified land surveyors in Lunenburg County can be found here.

    Where did the data on coastal wetlands come from?

    MODL’s data on wetlands is from the provincial Wetlands, Vegetation, and Classification Inventory map, which is managed by the Department of Environment and Climate Change. 

    What is the process for challenging a Designated Coastal Wetland?

    A property owner may submit evidence to the Municipality to demonstrate the absence of a Wetland and request that it be removed from the Development Constraints Map. The Municipality may seek confirmation from the Department of Environment and Climate Change before accepting changes to the Map.  

    Are there opportunities to add wetlands to the Development Constraints Map?

    Yes. Council may decide to add a wetland to the Development Constraints Map at its discretion by collaborating with environmental organizations or others to obtain wetland delineation documentation. An amendment process would be followed, including requirements for public engagement. 

    What proportion of the people you engaged with were coastal property owners?

    A total of 369 people completed a Coastal Protection Survey during the Engagement phase of this projectOf the 369 survey respondents, 206 (56%) indicated that they own a coastal property. 173 (84%) of those coastal property owners said that their property currently has a structure on it, whereas 33 (16%indicated that their property was vacant at the time of the survey.  

    Many other engagement activities were conducted, the details of which can be found in the Coastal Protection What We Heard Report.

    Other municipalities and the province have decided against going forward with their coastal regulations. Why is MODL doing it?

    MODL has decided to continue with coastal regulations even though the province is no longer going forward with the Coastal Protection Act because the coastline is a defining feature of our Municipality. As a coastal Municipality, our shoreline is especially vulnerable to environmental factors such as flooding and erosion. The regulations are important not only for protecting sensitive coastal ecosystems from development, but also for safeguarding residents from the effects and risks of climate change. 

    Were the studies you reviewed to inform the regulations specific to Nova Scotia’s unique coastline?

    Yes. Much of the data we looked at was specific to Nova Scotia, such as the Higher High Water Large Tide (HHWLT) for MODL. More information can be found in the background reports completed for the policies and regulations on Engage MODL.