Peggys Cove safety patrol makes thousands of warnings in first year of operation

A man is shown taking a picture near the dark rocks at the water's edge at Peggys Cove. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)
A man is shown taking a picture near the dark rocks at the water's edge at Peggys Cove. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)

Waves crashing on the rocks near the lighthouse at Peggys Cove is one of the most iconic scenes in Nova Scotia, a popular site for both tourists and locals that also carries risks.

Last August, a new Peggys Cove safety patrol was developed to warn visitors about slippery rocks close to the water's edge and the security team has done that 3,600 times since then.

"It's meant to be about education and informing people who are unaware of the dangers of the sea and exactly where the risk areas are," said Todd Brayman, director of operations and procurement with Build Nova Scotia, the provincial Crown agency overseeing the patrol. "Unfortunately there are still a lot of people who just don't appreciate the dangers that are present at Peggys Cove."

Peggys Cove is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.
Peggys Cove is a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

Peggys Cove is a popular destination for both tourists and locals. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

About 700,000 visitors make their way to the Peggys Cove lighthouse every year.

Brayman says patrol members are at Peggys Cove for twelve hours a day, seven days a week, for most of the year. The only time it is not staffed is during the winter months.

While official statistics aren't kept, Peggys Cove has for decades been among the sites with the highest number of drownings in Nova Scotia.

There have been four reported deaths in Peggys Cove in the last 20 years alone.

The latest one was in April 2022. The patrol started to operate four months later.

Several signs are posted at the Peggys Cove site to warn visitors of the dangers caused by crashing waves.
Several signs are posted at the Peggys Cove site to warn visitors of the dangers caused by crashing waves.

Several signs are posted at the Peggys Cove site to warn visitors of the dangers caused by crashing waves. (Paul Palmeter)

Despite many signs warning visitors to stay away from the dark rocks that are hit by waves, people continue to get too close and are putting themselves in danger. New viewing platforms have also been added in an effort to make the site safe and accessible.

"It works out to about 25 interventions a day with people who are visiting there, with a one-time daytime high of 91," said Brayman.

RCMP were called to Peggys Cove this weekend when someone ran away from a patrol member to get closer to the water. The patrol made 23 interventions with the public over the weekend as the huge rock formations were being pounded by a massive storm surge brought on by post-tropical storm Lee.

"If people end up in the water, Peggys Cove is traditionally a very difficult place to get out of the water once you are in," said Brayman. "Our hope is with education and having the safety patrol on site that more people will appreciate the natural beauty of Peggys Cove at a safe distance."

No one has been pulled into the water by waves since the patrol was put in place 13 months ago.

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