Landowner agrees to reopen Silver Sands Beach path in Cow Bay

·3 min read
Silver Sands Beach is only accessible via a path on a public easement over private property. (Brian MacKay/CBC - image credit)
Silver Sands Beach is only accessible via a path on a public easement over private property. (Brian MacKay/CBC - image credit)

Silver Sands Beach in Cow Bay, N.S., could reopen to the public in roughly two weeks.

A Halifax-area landowner who closed the path to the beach has accepted a judge's decision that the right-of-way must reopen.

"I think you could probably appreciate that no one likes to lose," said lawyer Eugene Tan of Walker Dunlop, who is acting for Ross Rhyno. "So he is perhaps a little bit disappointed. But having reviewed it, he understands the reasoning of the court, so he's prepared to abide by it."

Rhyno sold Silver Sands Beach, a rocky spit behind his home on Cow Bay Road, to Halifax Regional Municipality in 2003. Part of that deal was an easement across his backyard so the public could walk to the beach from a municipal parking lot.

Contentious pathway

Over the years the path been a source of conflict. Rhyno said some people mistreat his backyard which lines the sides of the path.

"There has been a great deal of vandalism to his own property, to his fences," Tan said. "He's sustained a great deal of theft, a great deal of damage."

Another issue is trespassing.

"People are actually not respecting the boundaries and very, very frequently [he] finds people in his own backyard and people sitting on his own deck," Tan said.

Rhyno has banned dogs from the path, saying owners leave large amounts of dog poop behind that he's forced to clean up.

In June of 2020, Rhyno locked the gate across the path, and began construction work he said fixes a runoff issue from the municipal parking lot.

Brian MacKay/CBC
Brian MacKay/CBC

He's left the gate locked and the path blocked with construction materials because he said coastal erosion has disconnected his property from the beach itself, so it no longer serves its purpose.

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court justice rejected that argument in a decision last week.

On Friday, Rhyno consented to an order drafted by HRM that he do the work necessary to reopen the path.

If a judge signs that order Monday, he'll have ten days to complete the work at his own expense, allowing the public to walk once more to Silver Sands Beach on June 24.

Nuisance action

"While Mr. Rhyno doesn't agree with all the findings at this point, he sort of feels that an appeal probably won't address his concerns," Tan said.

Instead, Tan said Rhyno intends to file a nuisance action against the municipality, claiming all the vandalism and trespassing interferes with his lawful enjoyment of his own backyard.

If a judge agrees, Rhyno could be entitled to financial compensation. Or if the issues are too onerous, the judge could order HRM, as Rhyno's "neighbour," to stop using the right-of-way.

"In certain circumstances, a court may order that the use to which that neighbour is putting that property shall cease. And so we'll be looking to essentially extinguish the easement."

Tan said Rhyno intends to file that action after he finishes the work to reopen the access pathway to the beach.

MORE TOP STORIES

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting