Nova Scotia

McNabs Island toilet theft causing problems for volunteers, visitors

The theft of solar panels and a battery from a composting toilet on McNabs Island is causing problems as visitor season begins.

Theft of solar panels from clean-smelling, composting toilet causing problems as more visitors arrive

Two solar panels were stolen from the composting toilet on McNabs Island. (Friends of McNabs Island Society)

The theft of solar panels and a battery from a composting toilet on McNabs Island is causing problems as visitor season begins. 

The island in Halifax Harbour has a campground and a national historic site. The non-profit society that preserves the island has said it is anxious to get the composting toilet in good order again. 

It will be a problem when 250 people are expected to attend the 25th annual McNabs Island cleanup on June 7, said Cathy McCarthy, the president of the Friends of McNabs Island Society. 

"Someone went over to the island and stole the solar panels off the toilet, so the toilet doesn't work the way it's supposed to, and we can't really understand who would do that," she said. 

The stolen solar panels taken from the roof of the composting toilet on McNabs Island. (Friends of McNabs Island)

The composting toilet was installed four years ago. There are existing outhouses on McNabs, but they're older and not as popular as the clean-smelling composting toilet.

The solar panels and battery power a fan which reduces smells for visitors.

"They need to be able to use the toilet," says McCarthy. "Most of the people that go over, especially the school groups, they're city kids. So, they're not necessarily used to being out in the outdoors, and to have this composting toilet, which is a really state of the art toilet, it helps." 

The cost of the solar panels was about $2,500 — a significant cost for a volunteer group.

Outside help

McCarthy says the Waterfront Development Corporation Limited is planning to install two more composting toilets on the island this summer. WDCL and Solar Nova Scotia have also offered assistance to replace the stolen panels, but details are still being worked out.

"We can probably provide the expertise in reinstalling, maybe even provide new material and new equipment and even maybe to install the equipment ourselves," says Gord Wilkie, the chair of Solar Nova Scotia.

"We're just getting back into a meeting, our regular monthly meeting next week. And at that time we're going to make a decision as to how we can help out." 

The solar panels and battery are still missing from this specialized composting toilet on McNabs Island. (Friends of McNabs Island Society)

This won't happen before the big cleanup, so McCarthy is hoping the public will send tips that help get the stolen parts back. 

"If someone did see some solar panels being advertised for sale, they may possibly be our solar panels." 

The theft happened around May 1. Police and Crime Stoppers say they've received one promising tip that they're following up on.