Don’t stop at just one beach: Corbett on Northumberland Strait coastal protections

Don’t stop at just one beach when it comes to protecting the Northumberland Strait — that was Lois Corbett’s main message during interviews with CBC Radio on Thursday, May 12.

The Executive Director of the Conservation Council spoke with CBC’s Information Morning in Moncton and Fredericton about the provincial and federal governments’ announcement this week of infrastructure investments and development restrictions specific to the Parlee Beach area.

While noting the announcement was a step in the right direction, Corbett said a comprehensive set of regulations is needed to ensure the entire coastal zone of the Northumberland Strait is protected.

“One thing we know when it comes to environmental policy, especially when it comes to keeping pollution out of water, is we can’t just have a strategy. We can’t just have good intentions. We have to have it written down in law,” Corbett said.

“We know, from an ecological and scientific basis, how important salt marshes are, how important eelgrass is, how important provincially-significant wetlands are,” she said of coastal regions along the Northumberland Strait. “And think about what the Strait means to our provincial economy — the fisheries and tourism dollars it brings in. [The Northumberland Strait] is an important contributor to long term sustainable economic development.

“But when it comes to permitting, we do it one project, one village, one development at a time. When it comes to putting protections in practice, we’re piecemealing ourselves to death, we’re nickeling and diming the Northumberland Strait, and in this day and age, especially with climate change … we need to have a more holistic approach.”

In explaining the risks of a piecemeal approach, Corbett offered the analogy of squeezing a tube of toothpaste that’s been cut at both ends.

“So we fixed this one area around Parlee Beach, but it’s like if you have an extra hole on the end of a toothpaste tube and we’re squeezing it; are we going to be pushing the development off to the other edges, with the toothpaste coming out of both ends of that tube? We can’t just push development pressures down the Strait a little bit, down the shore a little bit. That’s why we need to look at the whole system.”

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