Dominion Beach is once again open for swimming thanks to a $20-million sewage treatment project.
The beach reopened Thursday for the first time since July 2004. Now that the new sewage treatment system is running, the water is safe to swim in.
"It's a great opportunity to come and have some fun and play around," said Melanie Scott, watching son Tyler, 2½, play in the surf. "It's close to home and it's great."
At one time, thousands of people visited Dominion Beach every day during the summer, making it the second most used beach in Nova Scotia.
The beach had to be closed when high levels of fecal bacteria were detected in the water. Only the boardwalk remained open.
"I think it was a great loss to the community not having the beach here for them," said Shaun Smith, one of the people strolling along on the boardwalk.
"I remember when I was coming out here the road down there use to be double parked with cars, there would be that much people," said Jim MacDonald.
The new sewage treatment plant opened about 10 weeks ago. Two water samples taken at the beach on June 21 and 29 showed the water was safe for swimming.
Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger has been waiting for this day.
"I've also heard from people throughout the province and throughout the country who came to Dominion, who have family members who came here to vacation and they're coming back," he said.
Bruckschwaiger said rocks and storm-strewn debris were cleared away earlier in the week.
Three lifeguards were on duty at Dominion Beach on Thursday. The water temperature was only 15 degrees, however, so there weren't many swimmers.
"We do expect to get a fair population here and it will steadily climb as the word gets out," said Kieran Gallivan, beach captain.