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Carters Beach to become provincial park, but local resident says that misses the mark

Natural Resources Minister Minister Tory Rushton says the provincial park designation for Carters Beach will come with enhanced signage for the sand dunes, which are among the highest in Nova Scotia. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC - image credit)
Natural Resources Minister Minister Tory Rushton says the provincial park designation for Carters Beach will come with enhanced signage for the sand dunes, which are among the highest in Nova Scotia. (Yvonne Colbert/CBC - image credit)

Carters Beach is set to become a provincial park, but one residents says the designation fails to address local concerns about conservation.

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

The province announced the designation, which also covers several islands in the area, on Wednesday.

A larger parking lot, accessible toilets, enhanced signage and garbage bins will be added to the site, according to a news release.

Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton said the beach will be part of a "natural environment park."

"We know it's a very popular attraction area for locals and people that come to our province," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning. "And that's why we want to make sure that the facilities are there to enhance the experience, but also protect the areas that we have."

Carters Beach has some of the highest sand dunes in Nova Scotia. There is also salt marsh in the area, and it is home to the endangered piping plover and at-risk lichen, moss and orchids, the news release said.

Local residents like Nancy McBay, have long called for action to protect and preserve Carters Beach. But she said the provincial park designation isn't what is needed.

"It looks like an ad to come to a new restaurant. 'Look at these wonderful amenities we have,'" McBay told Information Morning. "I think their solutions are going to cause more problems at this point in time, and they aren't listening."

Plans for 76-vehicle parking lot

There are washrooms near the existing parking lot, but McBay said visitors defecate in the dunes. She said on busy summer days, upwards of 500 people visit the beach — which leads to a line of vehicles parked on Carters Beach Road.

"We all believe people should be able to come to Carters Beach. We just want the numbers managed so that the beach isn't destroyed," McBay said.

The province said it plans to add a parking lot that will hold 76 vehicles.

"We know that the high volume's there. We need to put infrastructure in there," said Rushton.

Visits to Carters Beach boomed while COVID-19 travel restrictions were in place. Some residents complained that it led to more problems of littering, urinating, parking and climbing on the sensitive sand dunes.

Asked whether there were any measures to enhance enforcement, Rushton replied: "We need to observe what is taking place and monitor what is taking place."

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