Famous for warm beaches and enormous lobsters, Shediac Bay has strong connections to water. Situated on the Northumberland Strait off the Atlantic Ocean, the shoreline communities around Shediac Bay enjoy a stunning backdrop of coastal islands, lighthouses and beaches.
The people who live and work in the Shediac Bay area care deeply about their local rivers and beaches. While green infrastructure might still be a new idea for most of the public, residents do have a growing awareness of the importance of water quality and the impacts of climate change.
Softening the Ground
The Shediac Bay Watershed Association has been active in the region for 20 years, and most recently has been working to build community support and participation for green infrastructure. As a key partner in a local initiative EcoVision 2025, SBWA has focused their outreach on the areas’s municipalities - increasing staff and councillors knowledge of the value and importance of green infrastructure
Staff of the municipality have a reasonably high level of knowledge about green infrastructure, but with limited capacity as a small municipality, they haven't been able to bring in new approaches. They’ve been open to and supportive of SBWA’s offers of partnership, and SBWA staff have been able to naturalize a recent retention pond the city built, and also gave the go-ahead to build one demonstration rain garden in 2018 with another planned in a high visibility area for 2020.
To move beyond support for third party projects, the municipalities need political support and motivation. Under the umbrella of an EcoVision municipal summit, SBWA organised a presentation to three local municipal councils focused on stormwater runoff issues and management approaches. In addition to the presentation, SBWA gave each councillor a stormwater resource kit that included information about rain gardens, rain barrels, stormwater runoff and stormwater management solutions.
The presentation was very well received, with many councillors expressing gratitude for the information. The feedback was that green infrastructure solutions are logical and valuable. The councillors agreed that a more concerted effort for the environment in the region was needed, and that a proposal for a larger scale stormwater management program would be feasible with more planning and more education activities.
With the area municipalities increasingly supportive of larger green infrastructure solutions, SBWA will next turn its attention to the public. Recent media coverage of bacterial contamination on local beaches has led to public concern about water quality. There is a misconception that the contamination is coming from a broken sewage system at a nearby development, but in reality the E Coli is coming from stormwater runoff.
SBWA has been part of a local water testing program, the results of which will help to demonstrate that the contamination is coming from stormwater runoff into area streams. This will provide an excellent opportunity to present green infrastructure projects as the solution for water quality in the rivers and beaches so loved by local communities.