Nova Scotia

Boardwalk at popular Cape Breton beach buried by rocks

Wind and waves from the Atlantic Ocean have covered a large section of the boardwalk at Dominion Beach Provincial Park with rocks. The municipal councillor has asked the province for funding to repair and protect the area.

Municipal councillor presses province for improvements

Municipal councillor Darren Bruckschwaiger points to the location of a section of boardwalk along Dominion Beach, now covered in rocks. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Wind and waves from the Atlantic Ocean have covered a large section of the boardwalk at Dominion Beach Provincial Park in Dominon, N.S., with rocks, prompting renewed calls for a second berm to protect against further damage and erosion.

The wooden boardwalk stretches 1.5 kilometres at the western end of the beach and is completely covered.

The provincial government installed a $1.5-million berm at the eastern side of the beach in 2013. That berm is helping protect a smaller section of boardwalk that leads from the parking lot to the beach.

Darren Bruckschwaiger, the municipal councillor for the community, said a second phase of the berm project was promised but never happened.

"I get a lot of calls. People are concerned," said Bruckschwaiger. "They can't use the boardwalk. People with disabilities who enjoyed coming here, they walk for exercise."

Bruckschwaiger said there is a simple solution.

"I think they should come up with a design to continue this berm either straight across or out into the waters so we can stay behind the rock wall on the beach," he said.

Helen Slade, a volunteer who helps clean up Dominion Beach, says the boardwalk is especially important for people who have difficulty walking. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Helen Slade, a volunteer who helps clean up the beach in the summer, said the loss of the boardwalk is terrible.

She said the structure included a small house and bench where people who have trouble walking could sit and rest.

"Now that's all gone,that's under all the rocks, so basically what's happening is nature is taking back," Slade said.

Bruckschwaiger wrote to the provincial Department of Lands and Forestry in June asking for funding to repair and protect the boardwalk.

In a letter, Minister Iain Rankin said the department has addressed the damage and invested "significant funding" to remove storm debris. But the minister added that given the "increased frequency and severity of coastal storms, the department is reviewing other options for the boardwalk". 

He did not say what those options are, but said work is underway to repair and improve beach access for visitors and people with disabilities. He said those changes consist of "sculpting two walking paths across coarse beach stones," which will be covered with crusher dust. 

'It's well worth saving'

Lisa MacNeil Campbell grew up in Dominion, and said she fears the beach could be lost if it's not protected.

"It's just so sad and it's needless," said Campbell. "The province needs to step up and help us out here because it's well worth saving."

Municipal councillor Darren Bruckschwaiger says there are fears that a severe storm could push rocks and other debris from Dominion Beach, seen here in the foreground, towards homes and the nearby Gardiner Mines highway. (George Mortimer/CBC)

Bruckswaiger said the fear among residents is that if there is a serious storm, water from the ocean will wash over the area and push through to the nearby Gardiner Mines highway.

"We're gonna have to mount a defence here and do something to save this beach or we're gonna be mounting a defence to save the property over there and the highway," he said.

Bruckschwaiger said he plans to press the issue again with the province and the member of legislature for the area.

He said with the beginning of hurricane season, it's anyone's guess what will happen without a second berm.