My Town Is Flooding

Mahone Bay NS

From The Catalyst, Summer 2016
By Rev. Adam Snook

The town of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia is home to three picturesque churches. Just across the harbour sit St. James' Anglican, Trinity United, and St. John's Lutheran, where I serve as pastor. The town is an enclave of imaginative artisans and inspired crafters. It is steeped in rich history and is a hub of activism and activity.

And Mahone Bay is also flooding.

We are not alone. Many of the East Coast’s shoreline communities are also facing these harsh truths. Environmental degradation has contributed to rising sea-levels and altered tides. By 2060, the water level in Nova Scotia is expected to be 20 to 60 cm above 2010 levels.

Like many of these other communities, Mahone Bay is now addressing the impacting legacy of pollution, irresponsible stewardship, and disregard for creation.

The threat of catastrophic flood levels is projected to engulf the entire village. And so the town engaged community members and a team of engineers to develop a plan that will protect it from further degradation. We are now committed to creating a living shoreline. This model will re-create lost breakwater formations. It will also incorporate nature’s salt marsh design and native vegetation. This will help to protect eroding shorelines, prevent dramatic flooding, and prepare for increasing storms and higher waves. Our approach is reactive, but our continued commitment is to become more proactive.

In the coming months, we will seek to protect ourselves against the wrongs that have been done. But we will also ask questions that address our continued practices and their environmental impacts. Why are there areas still using straight pipe sewage systems? Why are our shops, restaurants, and public places resisting green practices? Why is it so difficult to find proper recycling facilities in our tourism-driven community?

In essence, the onus of responsibility is on us. We may not find pictures of our Atlantic haven splashed across news outlets or national publications. But we have participated (and in some ways, continue to participate) in the habits and short-sighted practices that contribute to this destruction.

As a faith leader in this community, I am encouraged by the spirit of ecumenism here. Together we are seeking not only to address these urgent issues, but also to faithfully fulfill our call from Hosea 4 to live in respectful harmony with all of creation. These beautiful ocean tides are an expression of our God's creative power. In protecting them, we not only preserve God's artistry, but we also invite our God to continue creating with each new day.

Our town is flooding. But we are committed to rising above.

Adam shared this story with the federal government through CPJ’s online form. Learn more about the federal government’s climate consultations.

Rev. Adam Snook is a husband, father, and Lutheran pastor in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. He is the co-editor of CPJ’s book, Living Justice.