Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) was looking for opinions on proposed plans for Carter’s Beach on Aug. 12 and they certainly got them.
NSE has been working on a plan to make Carter’s Beach in Port Mouton into a Nature Reserve. A nature reserve designation gives the beach the highest level of provincial protection offered.
Officials made a presentation to locals at the West Queens Recreation Centre on Aug. 12 where they gave some ideas about their plans for the area and their research.
The nature reserve would encompass both beaches, Carter’s and Wobamkek, which are split by a river, salt marshes and dunes in the same area, along with several islands including Spectacle Islands, Jackies Island, and Massacre.
Some of the issues that locals are concerned about include parking, dogs, trash, and washrooms. Many in attendance also expressed frustration about the much debated fish farm located just off Carter’s Beach and Port Mouton Island.
One local asked how the Carter’s Beach area can be considered a nature reserve if a fish farm waste is washing up on shore. NSE officials stated that the Nature Reserve designation does not include the water and that fish farm issues are not under their jurisdiction but the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
People who live on the Carter’s Beach Road expressed frustration on not being able to get down the road during the summer and the amount of garbage they are finding in ditches and on their own property.
Sally Steele, Protected Area Coordinator for Western Nova Scotia, says the current plan is to move the parking lot back a little bit and then add a few spaces.
“No matter how big we make the car park, we know we’re never going to have enough spaces for the amount of visitation we have,” says Steele.
Officials say it is a delicate balance to keep wildlife safe and provide access to humans. One official said if they provided more parking spaces, inevitably more people would visit the beach and each beach has a “carrying capacity” of humans it can handle.
Dunes, nesting grounds for birds, and a rare breed of lichen have already been disturbed by human interference.
Another concern for NSE and local residents was the lack of washroom facilities. Many chimed in that they’d like to see an outhouse at the Carter’s Beach site but officials seem hesitant to put one in place because it encourages longer stays at the beach.
Steele says the local port authority will allow for the use of a port-a-potty near a public wharf but that location is 1.2 kilometres away.
Louise Swain, who lives on Carter’s Beach Road says she and her husband have been picking up litter from the beach and road for years.
“They leave chairs that are broken down, they leave them on the beach… the other day I picked up three dirty diapers off the beach,” says Swain. “You cannot legislate common sense.”
A garbage can is provided at the site of the parking lot but it is only emptied once a week. Officials say that as part of their planning they have thought about taking away the garbage can because in areas that don’t have one, they surprisingly find there is less garbage.
Officials from NSE provided the meeting attendees with paper and pens to write down suggestions and markers and maps to draw on to show, which plans they liked or disliked. The plans are not set in stone yet.
Questions and comments on the plan can be made to Sally Steele at 902-543-4685 or emailed at email@example.com
An interactive map of Nova Scotia’s parks and nature reserves can be found here.