Coastal Communities 

Coastal communities in Atlantic Canada may be harder impacted than most.

There is a major risk of saltwater intrusion in many coastal communities in Atlantic Canada, especially in Prince Edward Island, which is entirely dependent upon groundwater to supply potable water. Saltwater intrusion has already been documented in some areas, and the combined pressures of increasing coastal development and projected sea-level rise suggest the problem will only increase in the future.


What is coastal adaptation?  

Coastal adaptation involves making changes along the coast to reduce the impacts of erosion and  flooding and to minimize the risk to communities. Coastal adaptation can involve land use planning; installing engineered infrastructure; using natural assets such as beaches, dunes, and wetlands to counter the impacts of storm surges and significant precipitation events; or a combination of these. A combination often makes for a more complete adaptation approach. 

  • Land-use planning, engineering and nature-based approaches provide a variety of adaptation options.  Accurate flood hazard tools are helpful to reduce or avoid future flood risks for coastal communities and infrastructure.
  • “Soft” approaches (e.g., shoreline restoration using plants) are recognized by coastal ecosystem practitioners to be more resilient and more cost-effective over the long term but “Hard” engineering approaches (e.g., building a seawall) are very common.
  • Discussions about relocation are beginning in some areas of high risk, however, this is rarely a desirable option among residents.

Which coastal adaptation options are best? 

There are many different coastal adaptation options that can be used to help lessen the impacts of  climate change. The right solution often depends on choosing an adaptation option which is appropriate  for the specific site or infrastructure. Environmental conditions of the local coastal system should also be  given consideration. Updated, local climate change projections are also crucial to the decision-making  process and will influence the design and application of your adaptation strategies.

Use our Coastal Adaptation Toolkit to learn about options and approaches available for your community or property.

A diagram showing six different coastal adaptation techniques ranging from "green" (softer techniques, low wave energy) to "grey" (harder techniques, high wave energy). The six techniques are vegetation only, edging, sills, breakwater, revetment, and bulkhead.