Nova Scotia

What trails can you use now that Nova Scotia is under a state of emergency?

Halifax Regional Municipality issued a clarification on Tuesday telling residents that residential pathways that connect streets, multi-use paths along streets that replace sidewalks, and some trails may be used, but only for exercise.

What's permitted varies across the province

Under the state of emergency, all municipal and provincial parks have closed, but there was confusion over what that meant for trails. (BLT Rails to Trails/Facebook)

Councillors in Halifax say the province's directive closing all provincial and municipal parks over the weekend left many residents confused about where exactly they're allowed to go.

The new restrictions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 came as Premier Stephen McNeil declared a state of emergency on Sunday and told Nova Scotians they can no longer gather in groups larger than five people.

All provincial parks and trails within them are closed, while provincial trails not within a provincial park or beach will remain open for people to get exercise, not for socializing.

In Halifax, trails fall under the municipal park bylaw, which raised questions about whether trails in municipal parks remained open.

But Halifax Coun. Waye Mason said it was unclear if that meant people could no longer use municipal active transportation trails to walk or bike to work.

"We never envisioned a situation where we may want to close parks, but keep trails open for transportation reasons," Mason told CBC's Information Morning.

HRM clarifies what trails remain open

The uncertainty prompted HRM to issue its own clarification on Tuesday telling residents that residential pathways that connect streets, multi-use paths along streets that replace sidewalks, and some trails may be used, but only for exercise.

People can only use trails that are in their neighbourhood that aren't connected to or in a park, the municipality said.

"It still means people [can't] stop and socialize or play Frisbee or walk their dog in the park, but at least it means that people wouldn't have to take these very long detours around where they used to be able to go straight through to get somewhere," Mason said, adding that signs may go up telling people what trails they can and can't use.

On Tuesday, another 10 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nova Scotia, bringing the total number of cases to 51.

Halifax Regional Municipality isn't the only area of the province clarifying what trails are still open to residents.

What's happening elsewhere in the province?

Some municipalities that initially closed portions of the Harvest Moon Trail in the Annapolis Valley have since decided to reopen it, including the Municipality of Kings County and the Town of Wolfville.

Trails within the Municipality of West Hants are closed and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg closed all of its trails that are within parks.

The Municipality of Shelburne at first closed all its parks, beaches and trails, but has since reopened trails for exercise only, noting that gatherings must be limited and people need to practise social distancing.

In Truro, officials have closed all the trails in town because most of them go through parks.

Trails in other communities such as Mahone Bay, the Town of Shelburne and New Glasgow remain open. Most towns and municipalities have information about whether trails are open on their websites or social media channels.

The Municipality of Colchester said all municipal parks and their parking lots are closed. Municipal trails can be used, but social distancing measures must be followed. Parking lots used for accessing trails are not to be used.

National parks across the country, meanwhile, will be closed to visitors beginning Wednesday. All parking facilities and visitor services will remain closed until further notice, although highways through parks are still open.


With files from CBC's Information Morning, Colleen Jones and Pam Berman