MALAGAWATCH: Shoreline erosion was the topic at a local community meeting last week.

On September 29, the Atlantic Coastal Action Program (ACAP) Cape Breton hosted a community meeting at the Cookhouse in Mala to discuss an Environment Canada-funded project studying shoreline erosion in the area.

Sarah Penney, environment project coordinator with ACAP Cape Breton, said the meeting’s purpose was to get on the same page with the Mi’kmaq community “before we really got into doing anything else.”

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“The first step is to get input from the community and to make sure they know what we’re doing as we’re buzzing around doing surveys and that kind of stuff,” said Penney, who described the feedback they received as cautious but receptive.

“It’s more or less what I expected. We don’t have a plan right now. We weren’t presenting our plan for erosion mitigation because it… would depend on what they said that day.”

Penney said Malagawatch is an important part of Cape Breton, saying there is a lot of history in the community. Concern about people coming in and altering the shoreline is to be expected, she said, however she also said people are concerned about the land mass slowly disappearing.

A release from ACAP Cape Breton stated shoreline on Malagawatch, which is on the Bras d’Or Lake, is rapidly retreating and the shore around the community’s cemetery was already armour-stoned to protect graves.

“I think that there are overall positive feelings about something being done about that,” she said. “The next step is to take the information that we got at that meeting, and mix it in with what we know about the physical properties of the shoreline… and come up with a shoreline mitigation plan.

“We’re also going to do some offshore surveys… and have another meeting after we have some options figured out to get feedback from the community again and see which plan they prefer.”

The project team includes ACAP Cape Breton, the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, the Bras d’Or Lake Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI), the Guardians, and the Bras d’Or Institute.