Community rallies to repaint neglected Lawrencetown Beach house
'It gives us an opportunity to make a real physical statement,' says organizer
Dozens of people armed with paint brushes were at Lawrencetown Beach Provincial Park on Saturday to give the beach house a much-needed makeover — and to make a statement.
Local residents and the surfing community were fed up with looking at the neglected provincially operated building and took matters into their own hands.
Vic Ruzgys, organizer of the Lawrencetown Beach Preservation and Action Group, said giving the structure a fresh coat of blue paint was a way of getting the government's attention.
"Call it a peaceful, constructive protest," said Ruzgys in front of the building encircled by people holding paint scrapers, brushes and rollers.
"We're just trying to get the message out that there's a large group of people here that really care about the future of this beach and we want to be involved and have a bit of a say in that future."
Improvement plans coming soon
The picturesque beach — a scenic 30-minute drive from downtown Halifax — is renowned for its waves and year-round, world-class surfing.
But facilities are lacking and infrastructure at the provincial park is in disrepair.
Nova Scotia's Lands and Forestry Department said consultations with community members and stakeholders were held in 2017 on the future management of infrastructure at the beach.
In an email statement, spokesperson Lisa Jarrett said Eastern Shore MLA Kevin Murphy would be sharing infrastructure improvement plans "in the very near future."
Province needs to rethink priorities: group
Ruzgys, a longtime surfer who lives in West Lawrencetown, is concerned about the province's priorities.
"When Tourism Nova Scotia promotes our wonderful beaches, and in particular Lawrencetown Beach and the surfing and all that goes with it, it's featured prominently in all their advertising," said Ruzgys.
"And yet when the visitors come here, they're confronted with this ugly building, decrepit boardwalks, and so on. It's just an embarrassment to the community."
He said more funding is needed for the park.
Ruzgys said the plan is to replace the rectangular building at some point, but the community wanted to give it a facelift for the upcoming summer season.
"It gives us an opportunity to make a real physical statement," he said.
"The communication has been extremely limited and the majority of the community is unaware of what the plan is and what the timeline is."
The province is scheduled to hold a public meeting to discuss plans for the beach at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Lawrencetown Community Centre.
Time for province to 'step up'
Kevin Julien grew up in nearby Porters Lake, N.S., and spends most of his summer days at Lawrencetown Beach.
"My kids since the age of five were surfing, and they learned how to ride their bikes on the boardwalk that no longer exists," said Julien, proudly clutching a eye-level paint roller in his right hand.
"Now they're teaching surfing and this is how we spend our time. We'd like for it to look nicer… and we're tired of waiting."
Julien said it's time for the province to "step up."
Another issue is the road that leads to the beach. Powerful storms that bring massive waves and storm surge have repeatedly blown rocks onto the road, making it impassable.
The province has repaired the road four times in the last eight years. Each repair had a price tag of more than $10,000.
The Department of Infrastructure and Renewal is considering options, including an expansive sea wall to protect the road.
A similar sea wall was built in nearby Cow Bay and has shown it can withstand the worst conditions.