KINGSPORT, NS - Improvements to the waterfront that include increased accessibility for people facing mobility challenges is giving the community of Kingsport cause to celebrate.
Kingsport Community Association (KCA) president Charlene MacLellan said it’s important in life to celebrate our successes. The waterfront project, which began two years ago, wouldn’t have been possible without all the work of the planners, engineers, many community volunteers and skilled tradespeople.
An official opening celebration was held at the waterfront on Sept. 1 that featured a poster presentation of the project timeline, speeches, a ribbon cutting and refreshments that included a cake made by Kingsport’s own Kelly Stevens.
“It’s a wonderful project for Kingsport because it brings together people to enjoy this beautiful waterfront area,” MacLellan said. “It’s a very popular spot in Kings County.”
Residents have noticed the improvements and there has been a lot of positive feedback from visitors from all over North America. MacLellan said they’ve already noticed that sales are up this season at the Tides In Canteen and it seems there has been more traffic at the waterfront, including more people using the boat launch.
Upgrades included the addition of accessibility features to benefit people facing mobility challenges, which MacLellan said the community association is very pleased with. After all, the beach is “a lovely place to spend some time.”
She realized several years ago after having to spend approximately six months on crutches just how difficult it is for people with mobility issues to access public places.
As part of the project, gravel was brought in and a drainage pipe was installed to improve the parking lot. Armour rock was used to stabilize the breakwater and wharf and access to the west side of Kingsport beach was improved.
A new deck with an accessible ramp was added to the canteen building, with a walkway leading to a pavilion with interpretive panels. Other improvements to the canteen include new siding, windows and a door.
The second part of the project involved the installation of a generator on a cement pad at the community hall, making the Lloyd Memorial Centre an official County of Kings emergency comfort center for use in events such as prolonged power outages, for example.
Not taken for granted
Kings-Hants MP and Treasury Board President Scott Brison said a lot of people take for granted what an amazing asset we have and what a unique privilege it is to live next to the Minas Basin, with the highest tides in the world.
“I don’t take it for granted and the people of Kingsport don’t take it for granted and that’s one thing I’ve always noticed about this community,” Brison said. “I wish more people appreciated what we have here.”
He credited the success of the waterfront project to the passionate community volunteers who had a vision and understood the importance of accessibility so that more people can “enjoy the majesty of the Minas Basin.”
Kings West MLA and Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine said that when governments work with communities like Kingsport, the collective impact is immense. He said their department was happy to support the accessibility factor.
With an aging population, there will be a lot more of us in Nova Scotia facing mobility challenges. The improvements will help these individuals enjoy a higher quality of life. Glavine said the provincial government has set the goal of making Nova Scotia the most accessible province in Canada by 2030.
“I believe it’s not just a great target, it needs to be a realistic goal,” he said.
Kings County councillor Meg Hodges, who represents the Kingsport area, said she was humbled and proud to work with the community association over the past couple of years to help them visualize a dream for the waterfront and get to this point.
“It has been, really, a labour of love on their part and I think that we should all just be really proud that we have people like this in our community,” Hodges said.
She is proud of the municipality for investing in recreation and accessibility and for helping to ensure that history is preserved. Hodges said it’s great to see this valued by our communities.
The initiative began in 2015 with the circulation of a strategic plan to the communities and Kingsport and Medford. The project budget totaled $76,212.
The federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) contributed $38,106 through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. The Province of Nova Scotia contributed $10,000 through the Community Access-Ability Program and the Municipality of the County of Kings contributed $25,285. The balance was made up through private donations and by the KCA.