Learning a thing or two about erosion

Travelling shoreline tour makes Prince County stops

Published on July 18, 2014

ABRAM-VILLAGE - Adam Fenech shared a story of a neighbour who’s been losing a metre of waterfront property each year for the past three because of erosion.

Fenech, the director of the Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island, told several similar stories this week to a small group gathered at a climate seminar in Abram-Village.

“The biggest message I try to promote is not to build so close to the shore,” said Fenech. “We’ve calculated that about 1,000 homes and cottages on Prince Edward Island are in danger due to rising sea levels and erosion.”

Members of the climate lab have spent the last year developing interactive software that details every inch of the Island and potentially vulnerable land.

One of the developers, Andrew Doiron, was on hand to help guide users to any piece of land.

“When they get to see a visual of what their property would look like after erosion it opens a lot of eyes,” said Doiron. “It’s much better to show people rather than telling them.”

The software, called CLIVE, is an Island-wide map that can be zoomed into an individual’s property. The user can create different scenarios related to rising sea level, erosion or storm surges and see how the land will manage the impact.

Doiron has spent months compiling data to accurately measure different levels of elevation on P.E.I. That’s how the software determines when and how much damage erosion does.

“What we’re doing is merging GIS [geographic information software] into a video game format. That’s why I’m using a controller to operate it.”

Fenech and his team from UPEI are on an eight-stop tour across the province trying to better inform the public of potential risks.

Marie-Ann Bowden lives in Charlottetown, but spends the summer months at her cottage in Mont-Carmel.

Bowden attended the seminar to see if her cottage would stand the test of time.

“I thought I would be safe, turns out I will be,” Bowden said with a grin. “Unfortunately it looks like some other properties are in real danger.”

Bowden encouraged anyone who lives on the shoreline to attend a seminar.

“I don’t think a lot of people know about this. It’s very informative and could help a lot of people out.”

The team will be in Prince County again on July 24 as they make a stop at the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club in Summerside at 7 p.m. The tour wraps up in Alberton at the Community Centre, on July 30, also at 7 p.m.