Area residents concerned after Carters Beach 'inundated' this summer

Area residents concerned after Carters Beach 'inundated' this summer

Residents in the area of Carters Beach on Nova Scotia's South Shore are worried about their beloved beach after a particularly busy summer.

The beach has long been known for its white sand, blue water and sand dunes.

Residents have been working to preserve the area for years, picking up litter and putting up signs to keep people off sensitive dunes.

But with so many people vacationing in their home province this year due to COVID-19, residents say the usual problems of littering, urinating, parking and dune-climbing were worse.

Submitted by Leanora Fisher
Submitted by Leanora Fisher

"It used to be just weekends, but this year was every day of the week," said Leanora Fisher, who's lived a short walk from the beach for more than 40 years.

Fisher said the volume of cars and people was so agitating that she and her husband tried to leave town on weekends.

When people get out of their cars, they often change into their swimsuits or urinate directly in front of her house before walking to the beach, she said.

"My front deck is a nice place to sit on a summer afternoon, but you just can't take it," she said, estimating up to 1,000 people were at Carters Beach every day.

Robert Ross and his wife, Mary Ediger, live directly on Carters Beach Road.

Hundreds of cars parked along the road every day leave little room for regular traffic to get through.

"We were just inundated with people ... we've had car after car after car," Ediger said, adding it makes her nervous to drive in the area.

It also raises the concern of whether emergency vehicles could get through if anything were to happen.

Submitted by Robert Toss
Submitted by Robert Toss

On the August long weekend, Ross said the number of cars was the biggest they'd seen. He called the RCMP, which resulted in barriers allowing local traffic only.

CBC reached out to Nova Scotia RCMP to confirm this but has not yet heard back.

But Ross said the barriers didn't stop anyone.

Those aren't the only signs that have been ignored by beach-goers. This summer, residents worked with the province to erect signs and rope fences to keep people off the dunes.

Whether they're climbing over the dunes to "do their business" in the absence of public bathrooms, or sliding down and jumping on the dunes for the "sheer fun" of it, Ross said it's clear they're not listening.

Yvonne Colbert/CBC
Yvonne Colbert/CBC

"They're completely ignoring the signage that is conveying that it's an environmentally sensitive area," he said.

Ross, Edinger and Fisher all agree something needs to be done to limit the number of people and cars at the beach on a daily basis.

"We get it. We love this beach and it is a beautiful beach. But the physical geographical area that we live in cannot handle this type of movement of people … there has to be a solution," Edinger said.

Ross and some of his neighbours are calling on the province to put together a committee to decide the future of Carters Beach. They are concerned about next summer and beyond.

Yvonne Colbert/CBC
Yvonne Colbert/CBC

In 2015, Carters Beach was put up for a Nature Reserve designation. But that was quashed last year.

Department of Lands and Forestry spokesperson Jill McKenzie said in an email Friday that Carters Beach is not a provincial park, but it is known as a popular tourist attraction.

"As such, the Province has worked with stakeholders such as the Community Liaison Committee to help guide actions relating to the management and protection of Carters Beach," the email said.

"We also provide support through the pack-in, pack-out garbage initiative, encouraging visitors to take what they brought with them, and routinely send provincial staff to inspect and clean up garbage."

The Department of Lands and Forestry and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has partnered to work toward a sustainable long-term plan for the area, the email said.