A recent trend has been observed by the Water Resources Management Division for various developers and proponents to request environmental approval for infilling bodies of water. The purpose of most of such requests is to make new land for property development for a variety of uses. Granting of approvals without reasonable justification gives a mistaken impression that this department is not consistently and adequately protecting the water resources of this province as required under the Act.
Proponents can be classified into several categories:
· private individuals
· municipalities or community councils
· voluntary or service organizations
· commercial developers
Infilling projects affect the natural environment in terms of the ecology, hydrology, hydraulics and aesthetics of flood plains, ponds and lakes as well as coastal marine areas. Such infilling often does not give due recognition to the value of the water resource involved nor does it recognize common hazards such as flooding and erosion.
The proximity of water to such developments is creating an additional future liability for the province. Should there be flooding or erosion of the filled area, will the province be obliged to undertake emergency rescue or protection of occupants and property? Would the province be obliged to provide compensation for damage. If flood protection measures are implemented in the future, will the province be forced to expropriate the owners in order to gain access to the body of water?
Current literature on the topic of climate change indicates that global warming may cause increases in sea levels. In a report by Environment Canada entitled "Socio-Economic Assessment of the Physical and Ecological Impacts of Climate Climate on the Marine Environment of the Atlantic Region of Canada - Phase 1" the impact on coastal infrastructure based on a one metre rise in mean sea level over the next 50 years is projected to cost in the billions of dollars. Losses include urban waterfront land, buildings with a life expectancy of 50-75 years, breakwaters, bridges and causeways, roads and railways. It can be safely assumed that areas presently prone to flooding will be prone to more severe and more frequent flooding in the future.