Peggys Cove Kerfuffle – Decide for Yourself
I live in St. Margaret’s Bay and visit nearby Peggys Cove several times a year, most recently on a beautiful and sunny New Year’s day. I try to be there when the number of visitors is minimal which is usually in winter. BTW, I’m not using the apostrophe in Peggys Cove because Google hates them. I do know the correct spelling.
However, there are other ways of beating the crowds as I described in Alison and my latest book, The Nova Scotia Bucket List. In fact, I’ve been writing about Peggys Cove for over 25 years and perhaps with a bit of hubris, consider myself a bit of an expert on the place. During the New Year’s day visit I noticed a lot of construction equipment around the village and a lot of lumber. A few weeks later the province, with help from the feds and others, announced a $3.1 million plan to create a wooden viewing platform, upgrade on site washroom facilities and create a better traffic flow pattern at Peggys Cove. My initial reaction was quite favourable so I was a bit shocked to see a group of women getting media attention opposing the project. I was even more shocked when I found out they weren’t even from the area, but somehow thought their opinions were more important than those who actually live in the village. This post is my response. Alison and I will be going to Peggys Cove to check it out for ourselves. It will not be a hardship as we will be staying at Oceanstone Resort and having dinner at Rhubarb, the best restaurant on the entire Peggys Cove Highway 333. More on that in the next post.
Peggys Cove Today
This is a Google Maps satellite photo of the portion of Peggys Cove where most of the changes will take place. There is only one narrow road into the village and all traffic must take a one way lane that starts at the farthest point on the left just beside the Sou-Wester to go around the restaurant and access the parking lot.
Now the reason Peggys Cove is so famous is because, like Niagara Falls, it is a wonder, although in the case of Peggys Cove it is a combination of natural and man made elements. Not only is it the lighthouse with its eerie green light that attracted upwards of 700,000 tourists a year pre-Covid, but the impossibly narrow cove that acts as a natural haven from the huge waves that break in this area. This is a photo I took on February 4, 2021.
But also like Niagara Falls, it is by no means really the unspoiled fishing village some purport it to be. Otherwise it wouldn’t have this. Not sure if I ever heard of a fisherman called Bubba north of the Carolinas.
Also, there have been accessibility issues at Peggys Cove for decades. This is the current tiny concrete viewing area to which people who can’t access the rocks are pretty well restricted.
The Master Plan
In order to address the traffic, accessibility and congestion issues Develop Nova Scotia has come up with a master plan that they have been working on since 2018. I encourage you to follow the link and read the history of the plan, who is involved and how it will evolve. After reading same I came away convinced that the community has been fully engaged and in support of this plan since its inception, along with local businesses and the Indigenous community as well. This is not something that has been dreamt up overnight by some bureaucrat to be foisted on the unsuspecting souls of Peggys Cove come hell or highwater.
Here is an aerial view of the changes that will be made in the area between the lighthouse and the Sou-Wester.
The area in red is the current asphalt access road. It will be replaced by the new entrance to the parking as shown in Figure 2. No more stream of cars and buses passing between the patrons of the restaurant and the view. The asphalt in return will be overlaid with a wooden viewing platform as shown in grey and proposed to look something like this.
While visiting the site yesterday I took this photo of the existing roadway. Since my visit on New Year’s day the asphalt has been removed and replaced by heavy gravel. We’ll call this the ‘before’ picture.
This is what the same area will look like once completed. We’ll call it the ‘after’ picture. Which do you think is better?
In 1970, Canadian folk icon Joni Mitchell coined the famous line – They took paradise and put up a parking lot. That’s really exactly what happened here decades ago and now sensible people are trying to fix that mistake. And yet, we have protesters fighting to save the asphalt.
Here’s a photo I took this morning standing about where the fellow sitting on the bench is shown in the drawing. Would you rather view through the windshield of a moving car as is the case now or would you prefer to see it from a wooden deck? This view gets you close enough to see the tremendous sea swells that often break in this area and with the viewing platform, it will be in complete safety.
Complaints about blocking access to the granite rock for which Peggys cove is justly famous are absolute rubbish. This will provide more, not less access. Even if they really tried to block access that would be next to impossible as you can access the rocks from at least half a dozen places.
Here is a photo I took standing at the lighthouse looking towards the proposed viewing platform area. The protesters clearly will dearly miss the sounds and smells of the tour buses as they made their way between the lighthouse and the view of the cove and the church.
There are enough things in Nova Scotia to get pissed off about to the point of formally protesting, like the massacre of our public forests or the destruction of parts of our coastline by open-pen aquaculture, but to me, this is not one of them. Sometimes the people in charge do get things right, but don’t quote me on that.
In the next post I’ll describe how you can enjoy visiting Peggys Cove in winter in the middle of a pandemic with a visit to nearby Oceanstone Resort and the adjacent Rhubarb restaurant. Please join me.
After that, I’ll be headed for Owls Head on the Eastern Shore to weigh in on the controversy surrounding the delisting of the place as a Provincial Park to sell it to a golf course developer.