Shoreline Erosion and Flooding
Climate change is bringing higher sea levels, increased numbers of storm surges, and more significant erosion along PEI’s shorelines. Much of the Island’s coastline is composed of sandstone or clay stone. These rocks are easily eroded by the actions of wind and water.
Erosion is the natural breakdown and removal of rocks and soil from a specific location. On PEI, much of the erosion occurs along the coastline and is caused by the action of high winds and strong waves. The annual rate of coastal erosion on PEI is 0.3 m (or 1 foot). However, in some areas the annual rate of shoreline loss can be more than 1.5 m (or 5 feet).
Flooding occurs when water flows temporarily over low-lying land. Coastal flooding is often due to high tides or a storm surge—a temporary rise in sea level that occurs when strong winds push ocean water toward the shore.
While erosion can be damaging to some coastal properties, it is this natural wearing away of the soil by water, wind, and ice that creates PEI’s famous beaches.
The demand for waterfront homes and businesses on Prince Edward fuels a tug-of-war between human development and nature, as property owners try to stop or slow down coastal erosion.
In the past, development along PEI’s shoreline was often undertaken with little thought given to the risks associated with erosion or flooding. As a result, many owners of shoreline properties are now faced with three alternatives:
1. 1. Do nothing and risk losing much of their physical property and/or existing buildings;
2. 2. Relocate buildings farther inland and allow the shoreline to erode naturally; or
3. 3. Reduce the rate of erosion by attempting to stabilize the shoreline.
The PEI Department of Communities, Land and Environment does not recommend, as a first alternative, the use of artificial stabilization along PEI’s perimeter coastline. The Department does recommend locating new buildings, or relocating existing buildings, at a higher elevation and farther inland from the water. Government also does not provide financial assistance to landowners for shoreline stabilization work or for storm damage repair. Following a significant storm event, landowners who have property damage may contact the PEI Office of Public Safety at (902) 894-0385 to inquire about possible financial assistance.Coastal property owners can get information about the levels of erosion and flood risk for their property by obtaining a Coastal Erosion and Flood Risk Assessment.
- PEI Shoreline Erosion Information Sheet
- Shoreline Erosion at West Point, Prince Edward Island (2008)
- Coastal Erosion and Flooding Assessment Fact Sheet
- Coastal Climate Change in Prince Edward Island: Shoreline Protection
- Coastal Change at the Summerside Rifle Range
- Coastal Erosion and Shoreline Classification in Stratford
- Geomorphic Shoreline Classification of Prince Edward Island
Contractor Licensing Program
Find licensed contractors for erosion control work:
Charlottetown - Jones Building
Western Forest District Office