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Prince Edward Island

After controversial development, P.E.I. suspends new shoreline protection projects

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island is imposing a moratorium on new sea defense projects after a controversy over a large, rocky breakwater being built around a beach house.

CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island is imposing a moratorium on new sea defense projects after a controversy over a large, rocky breakwater being built around a beach house.

Environment Secretary Steven Myers said Wednesday the moratorium defines which projects will be frozen pending a new coastal zoning guideline in collaboration with researchers from the University of Prince Edward Island.

The minister said the goal is to create a broad-based approach to coastal protection that “addresses Prince Edward Island’s unique coastal geology, which varies from tip to tip”.

The ministry has been refusing permits since December 1 – with 75 proposals so far on hold – but Wednesday’s announcement formalizes the moratorium and defines who it applies to.

Certain projects approved by provincial environmental reviews can still proceed, and repairs to “critical infrastructure” and erosion control structures damaged by post-tropical storm Fiona in late September are allowed.

Myers acknowledged the moratorium stemmed “in part” from an intensive scrutiny of an imposing quarry erected in front of a new home in the community of Point Deroche, about 30 kilometers northeast of Charlottetown.

However, he also said that coastal zone policy is being driven by the need to demonstrate that the island is willing to apply for its share of the $1.6 billion climate change adaptation fund announced last fall.

“We’re trying to line up our ducks so we can go to Ottawa and say, ‘Look at us, we’re ready,'” Myers said in an interview.

When asked if he expects to introduce new legislation to prevent a stray shot approach to coastal defenses, Myers said it will depend on what the university’s advisers propose.

“If they come back with something that requires us to change the law, then we will do it,” he said. He added the moratorium could extend into the fall if his government decides to proceed with legislative changes.

Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker said last fall that Point Deroche’s breakwater prevented people from walking along a pristine beach, calling the structure a “lightning rod channeling decades of growing discontent” over lack of water Coastal Administration.

In an interview on Wednesday, the opposition leader said he believed the progressive Conservative government should halt all construction on the Point Deroche property. Myers has said the home’s dam doesn’t violate the law because it was built over existing rock barriers.

Bevan-Baker also said he doubted the government would enact legislation penalizing developers who violate coastal development regulations.

“We have policies now, but people bypass them and break them and there is no repercussion because policies don’t carry the same weight as laws,” he said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 1, 2023.

— By Michael Tutton in Halifax.

The Canadian Press

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