No need to go inside. Stay in the parking lot, or walk the grounds. In 2015, EAC embarked on a series of projects to implement the Living Shorelines Approach along Nova Scotia’s coastline. There was a demonstration site at St. Mary’s Boat Club.
The EAC, Helping Nature Heal, and the HRM planted the Living Shorelines demonstration project. Living Shorelines use vegetation and other natural materials to help protect land from erosion while allowing the shoreline to retain its dynamic nature and habitat features.
Daughter of Avon
…can be accessed anywhere at any time, on the “Carry the Spark” EP on Bandcamp!
Nova Scotian songwriter Terra Spencer grew up on the banks of the Avon River, and has been a resident of Windsor for the past four years. Since childhood, she has witnessed changes in the tidal landscape resulting from the causeway which spans the stretch of Highway 101 between Windsor and Falmouth. Recently, she has heard the conflicting voices of friends and neighbours concerned for the waterway’s present and future. Endorsed by the Department of Agriculture as a means to protect 3000 acres of upstream farmland from saltwater, the causeway was installed in 1970 at the cost of restricting fish passage in the Avon River and dramatically altering the ecosystem of the shoreline. The resulting manmade Lake Pisiquid has been a recreational site for watersports, home of the town’s (former) annual Pumpkin Regatta, and a supply of freshwater for local agricultural crops, livestock, vineyards, and snow production at the nearby ski hill. The flow of fish and saltwater from the Avon River into the lake is regulated by an aboiteau, a gate that is opened and closed with the tide. How long that gate is open each day, the amount and salinity of the water that passes through, and the fish carried by it, are subjects of controversy.
A project approved in 2017 to twin the stretch of Highway 101 shone a spotlight on conflicting interests at play at the causeway, voiced through council meetings, heated online debates, and a parade organized by farmers and recreational users of the lake. Protests and vigils are ongoing on land and in the water, held by local residents, members of First Nations communities, and fishers - most notably Darren Porter, who has been a vocal advocate for the restoration of river flow. Fishers are working with a small Mi’kmaw science team to monitor fish passage through the Avon River aboiteau and at Halfway River. Signs supporting either side of the lake/river debate have been displayed throughout Windsor, on front lawns and storefronts. The twinning project is presently at a standstill, with construction butting up against the aboiteau, awaiting a final federal ruling from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the future of fish passage through the Avon River.
Much of Terra Spencer’s songwriting has been inspired by Nova Scotian landmarks and their connection to the environment, including a song called Boat Harbour, recorded with Dave Gunning in support of the Friends of the Northumberland Strait. Daughter of Avon was written in collaboration with artist Lilli Lewis from New Orleans, a city that has its own precarious relationship with the sea.
The song is a lament for the river’s former days, performed by Terra Spencer and her daughter Sarah Kasprzak and filmed by Dario Lozano-Thornton and Maximillian Flint of North Window Productions, in the golden hour on the mud banks of Avondale, on the river side of the causeway. That location is also home to the Avon River Heritage Museum, a former shipbuilding site, and an art installation called Spawning Fish of the Avon River by Tacha Reed.
Windsor, Nova Scotian funeral director-turned-songwriter Terra Spencer weaves the real and imagined details of other people’s lives and her own with sly humour and heart. Since her 2018 debut as a solo artist, she has struck up intimate conversations with audiences in the Maritimes, Ontario, the UK and Germany, accompanying her storytelling songs with deft fingerstyle guitar and gospel piano. Marrying folk traditions with the wood-panelled sounds of the ‘70s, Terra’s songs have caught the attention of mentors like David Francey and Ron Sexsmith, and won her spots on the mainstages of major festivals and opening slots for the likes of Catherine MacLellan and Alan Doyle. In 2020, she followed up her acclaimed debut Other People’s Lives with her second album, Chasing Rabbits, a collection of winter songs about long-distance relationships, wildlife encounters, and places that feel like home. Terra is currently at work on a collaboration with Ben Caplan for release and a cross-Canada tour in spring 2022.
Damage and/or property loss due to erosion is a serious concern for many Nova Scotians living on coastal properties. It has typically been prevented by hard infrastructure such as rock walls or boulders, but this kind of intervention can be expensive, require regular maintenance, and even interfere with sediment movement and beach formation, increasing erosion elsewhere along the coast. The EAC has been encouraging a softer approach - living shorelines. Living Shorelines approaches are diverse, but they all seek to mimic natural processes which help a coastline to reach a more stable state. A variety of coastal ecosystems, such as oyster reefs and eelgrass meadows in shallow waters, salt marshes in the intertidal zones, beaches, dunes, vegetated slopes, and upland coastal forests all offer their own unique style of erosion and flood protection. In 2014, EAC embarked on a series of projects to implement the Living Shorelines Approach along Nova Scotia’s coastline. There were three sites along the Northumberland Strait and one demonstration site at St. Mary’s Boat Club. If you want a Living Shoreline on your property, get in touch with the fine folks at Helping Nature Heal and they’ll get you started!
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