Building resilience for Hall’s Harbour

Perched on the side of the Bay of Fundy is the picturesque fishing community of Hall’s Harbour. Tourists come to marvel at the highest tides in the world, eat a seafood dinner at the local lobster pound, walk along the shore, and explore the art from Parker’s General Store. Dotun Olutoke, a Master of Community Development student at Acadia University, calls it one of Nova Scotia’s best-kept secrets.

As a teaching assistant for Dr. Glyn Bissix’s Strategic Planning Community Development course, Olutoke visited Hall’s Harbour for the first time in September 2021. Walking around the community, he was struck by the beauty of the area.

Today, he is working with the community to help it build resilience in the face of climate change.

Facing climate change

“In Nigeria, we also have the Atlantic coast, and I felt very connected to this place,” says Olutoke. “It’s very quiet and I walked around the community and learned about its history and the Bay of Fundy. I met with community members and realized it is a very special place. The people there have a strong sense of place and are very committed to the progress of the community.”

In recent years Hall’s Harbour has experienced its share of challenges. Climate change has resulted in flooding within the community, the shoreline faces the effects of erosion and a steady increase in tourism have all resulted in an urgent need to create new infrastructure.

“It’s a project that we thought would be very relatively simple but once you dig into it, you can see how massive it really is and how important it is to Hall’s Harbour,” says Dave Davies, Vice-Chair of the Hall’s Harbour Community Development Association.

“Climate change is not coming, it’s here,” he says. “We’re very vulnerable the way we are now, and the last few storms have indicated how rough the weather can be. We have to do something, and we have to do it now.”

Building resiliency

With the support of his supervisor Dr. John Colton, funding from The Change Lab Action Research Initiative (CLARI) and through collaborations with the community of Hall’s Harbour, Olutoke is working on a project to explore broader resiliency in the community.  
He is assessing the gaps and opportunities in the current infrastructure, and his research will guide decision-making that will shape the future of the community.

“This project provides the opportunity to look into small, rural, coastal communities like Hall’s Harbour that are challenged with climate change impacts,” explains Olutoke. “We are asking the question, ‘How can we build resilience, not only in the context of climate change, but in a holistic framework that considers intersecting socioeconomic factors?’”

The long-term goals of this project are to create actionable, insightful recommendations that will support ongoing adaptation efforts in the community. Olutoke believes that the project will benefit Hall’s Harbour as well as other coastal communities in Kings County and across Nova Scotia.

Sharing knowledge

This fall, Olutoke had the opportunity to share his research progress at a two-day symposium hosted at Acadia University. Organized by the Change Lab Action Research Initiative (CLARI), the Growing Innovation: Meaningful Community Research Relationships conference allowed him to share ideas with faculty and community partners engaged in community-focused action research.

Outside of this research project, Olutoke has been kept busy. He recently completed a five-week course on Climate Literacy organized by the Principles for Responsible Management Education, a United Nations-Supported Initiative in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, UK. He was also invited as a youth delegate to the United Nations Conference of Youths on Climate Change (COY 17) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. COY17 is a youth precursor event to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27).

A tidal timelapse

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