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POLL: Port aux Basques council preparing to deal with effects of climate change

This stretch of J. T. Cheeseman beach (shown here in 2018) experienced significant erosion in a two year period from 2013 to 2014.
This stretch of J. T. Cheeseman beach (shown here in 2018) experienced significant erosion in a two year period from 2013 to 2014. - Rosalyn Roy

Coastal erosion a concern for some residents

CHANNEL-PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L. —

In just two years, between 2013 and 2014, the seaward edge of the sand dune at J. T. Cheeseman Provincial Park eroded 922 cm (over 30 feet) and unearthed a section of old railway.

Closer to Cape Ray, part of the provincial park’s scenic beachline is a critical nesting place for the endangered Piping Plover, a tiny shorebird bird that is highly sensitive to environmental changes.

But it’s not just sand and wildlife being affected climate change and high erosion. Coastal communities have for generations built homes and businesses close to the sea.

A resident in the East End Channel area has appealed to the Port Aux Basques town council for help reinforcing the eroding bank behind his property, which abuts the shoreline.

Council has agreed to assist if any extra material from sidewalk work in that area becomes available.

This resident expressed fear over the erosion of his property,” Mayor John Spencer confirmed for The Gulf News via email.

The mayor is an avid walker and said he has often noticed the high impact of erosion during his regular outings.

“It is easy to see the higher sea surge.

“For example, look at the fish plant wharf at high tide from the old location of Harbour View (Restaurant). Not much of a margin from normal to flooding. The new standard for the construction of such docking facilities calls for higher docks.”

Some of the town’s own infrastructure will also have to be reviewed to prevent further damage.

“Grand Bay West causeway — between the last house and the storage facility — at high tides with surge has water levels higher than the culverts under the road,” wrote Spencer.

Currently the town’s immediate plan is to identify potential problem areas and reinforce them with armour stone.

“Plans for mediation will assist in preparation for drastic climate variations,” Spencer said.

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

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