SHEET HARBOUR – The Facebook post from one resident of this Eastern Shore community of 800 says it all: “I’ve always thought Sheet Harbour could be like Mahone Bay. Well Done!!”
It’s been 10 years in the making, but this sea-facing village is tantalizingly close to having the jewel it’s always wanted for its crown of civic improvements: a marina to call its own.
With the announcement last week of its $150,000 purchase of the old East River Wharf, the Sheet Harbour Marina Association’s real work to transform a holding company’s derelict waterfrontage into a vibrant, full-service public facility, capable of accommodating between 50 and 70 boats, begins in earnest.
“This is a big step for an organization that’s 100 per cent volunteer,” says the non-profit association’s president Marilyn Munroe about the deal closed with money from a private investor. “The next thing, of course, is that our fundraising has to start.”
The association has managed to secure informal commitments from Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), the provincial government and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) for as much as $3.5 million in development money.
But, Munroe says, “We could talk till we were blue in the face … they weren’t going to [do more] until we actually owned the property. Once a feasibility study … shows that this is a viable project for the community, the money should be forthcoming.”
The need for such a facility has never been in question around here.
Earlier this year, following the association’s request for $1 million from HRM, Councillor David Hendsbee (Preston-Chezzetcook-Eastern Shore) told the Journal, “There is a lot of offshore sailing traffic going right by Sheet Harbour because of the lack of infrastructure. The economic impact will be multi-fold. Having recreational vessels of every size [with] the ability to come ashore, either for safe harbouring or replenishment of provisions from the local stores and services [will] certainly help to bolster employment in the community.”
Munroe says the new marina will include slip rentals, boat ramp, fueling station, boardwalks, boating courses, lounge and retail and souvenir craft stores. It will also be equipped to provide emergency services to boaters.
“Ships needing medical or RCMP assistance can be better served from our marina,” she says, adding: “The Sheet Harbour Marina will fill the gap along the Eastern Shore to complete the circumnavigation of Nova Scotia.
“Our village has been a main service centre and hub offering residents and visitors essential services and conveniences. The fishery continues and recreational and eco-tourism are rising. Our beaches have been discovered by people from away. In 2014, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust protected the 100 Wild Islands.”
Launched 10 years ago after the Sheet Harbour Chamber of Commerce & Civic Affairs started planning the community’s long-term development, the marina project dovetails seamlessly with other recent civic projects designed to make the community more livable and sustainable, including a new multi-million-dollar Eastern Shore Lifestyle Centre.
“Over the past decade the members of the marina committee have been steadfast in their efforts to bring a marina to this part of the Eastern Shore,” says Chamber President Janice Christie. “With the purchase of the site, the committed volunteers have a major milestone to celebrate. The communities of the Shore will benefit as this project continues to grow.”
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal