Nova Scotia

Fear of fines over provincial regulations closes Cape Breton beach

A popular Cape Breton beach is closed and the public is being asked to avoid the area after concerns about possible fines.

'I wish the province would rely on local organizations having some discretion on how to organize it'

The Inverness Development Association says it owns Inverness Beach and the boardwalk. (CBC)

A popular Cape Breton beach is closed and the public is being asked to avoid the area after concerns about possible fines.

The Inverness Development Association says it owns Inverness Beach and its boardwalk, which are part of the town's walking trails.

Rob Burbach, the association's vice-president, said the group reached out to the province and municipality to receive instructions about how the beach is classified.

The Health Protection Act states provincial and municipal parks and beaches are closed, along with provincial tourist attractions.

Burbach believed the beach and boardwalk did not fall under the regulations.

Late Monday, Burbach received confirmation from the province that protected beaches are also closed and that all land below the ordinary high-water mark is Crown land and under provincial jurisdiction.

In an email to CBC, the province said that Nova Scotians are required to follow orders issued under the regulations, including on their own property.

Burbach hoped the area could be kept open for walkers during the COVID-19 outbreak. "The Inverness beach is an integral part of our trail system," he said.

He insisted social distancing would be enforced, saying he doesn't want the public or his group to receive a fine.

More timely information

The RCMP indicated they had not handed out any tickets to individuals on Inverness Beach last week.

Burbach said he would like to receive more timely information from the province, saying the response to questions posed related to the opening of the beach were not returned promptly.

"I wish the province would rely on local organizations having some discretion on how to organize it," he said.

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