While some Nova Scotians started the new year with a frigid dip, the beach at White Point resort on the South Shore was quiet.

Its fourth annual polar dip was cancelled because of coastal erosion by winter storms.

“It wasn't because the water wasn't warm enough and inviting, but it was about beach access,” said Donna Hatt of White Point Beach Resort.

Storm surges over the past year, coupled with heavy winds over the last few weeks of last year, have changed the shape of the beach here in a way that hasn't been seen before.

“Typically, at this time of the year, we would still have a nice sweep of sand here that would allow us to have that run-off access,” Hatt said. “But the storms that have been coming through this year in March, the nor'easters that have come through, have really shape shifted what our shoreline was looking like.”

The main reason for cancelling the White Point polar bear dip was safety. With the way the beach has formed, there's such a steep angle into the ocean, and also the beach rocks here have been scooped away forming deep craters, so the concern was that dippers could trip and fall on their run into the ocean.

2018 saw Nova Scotia's shoreline battered by storm surges and the effects have been seen on other beaches too, long after the winds died down.

“We're seeing accelerated erosion in a lot of places,” said Nancy Anningson, the Ecology Action Centre’s coastal adaptation co-ordinator. “Storms are worse, and there are more of those storms.”

Anningson says with 70 per cent of the province's population living along the coast, more Nova Scotians are seeing these signs and becoming more and more concerned.

“And they know why we need to protect it and we need to stay out of the way and let it adapt and try to withstand what's happening,” Anningson said.

That's why Anningson is consulting with the provincial government on proposed legislation to protect coastlines in Nova Scotia. Legislation is expected to be revealed this spring, with the hope of keeping the effects of coastal erosion at bay.

Back at White Point Beach Resort, the hope is the tides will help restore the beach, so they can try for that polar dip again, sometime in March.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Heidi Petracek.