Nova Scotia

Proposed Peggys Cove parking lot in preservation area, resident says

Develop Nova Scotia wants to construct an overflow parking lot at Peggys Cove, but a longtime resident says the proposed location is in a preservation area.

Develop Nova Scotia wants to construct an overflow parking lot at the iconic attraction

The provincial Crown corporation Develop Nova Scotia is planning changes to Peggys Cove, including constructing a new parking lot. But a local resident has raised concerns about its proposed location. (Tourism Nova Scotia/Matt Long/Landlopers)

For six generations, Roger Crooks and his family have explored the hills and barrens surrounding one of Nova Scotia's most popular tourist destinations.

Crooks, 83, can trace his family's history in Peggys Cove back to the village's founding in 1811.

He likes to wander the smooth, white rocks and knows all the secret places where cranberries grow.

"I guess you're always married to the land," said Crooks. "I like to roam around and … just to go out and kind of be by yourself and watch the wildlife."

The idea of solitude and the reality of the hordes of tourists at Peggys Cove may not seem to go hand in hand.

The tiny fishing village draws about 700,000 visitors a year. Cars and buses often clog Peggys Point Road, the only vehicular route to the iconic lighthouse.

Develop Nova Scotia proposed this area, located between Prospect Road and Peggys Point Road, for a new parking lot in Peggys Cove. (Robert Short/CBC)

Crooks recalls one time it took him 20 minutes to get from his fish shed to his house — a trip of less than 300 metres that should have taken less than two minutes.

A lifelong resident, he knows the village needs a solution to its traffic and parking problems.

But he's concerned about a plan to build a new parking lot in a designated preservation area.

The parking lot, proposed to be constructed between Peggys Point Road and Prospect Road, is part of a slew of changes pitched by the provincial Crown corporation Develop Nova Scotia.

Crooks said he was shocked when he first heard about the plan at a community meeting at the visitor centre.

"That's got a high ceiling into it and I felt like I could jump up and hit the roof of that because I couldn't believe that they would choose that particular area for a parking lot," he said.

"It's just one beautiful area and to take it for a parking lot, I thought, 'My oh my, there's got to be something behind this that I don't understand because it does not make any sense.'"

On a cold December day, the parking lot near the lighthouse at Peggys Cove is practically empty. But during peak tourist season, it is packed, and some say a new parking lot is needed. (Robert Short/CBC)

Crooks said the area is "like a sanctuary" for animals and nesting birds.

Develop Nova Scotia spokesperson Deborah Page acknowledged that most of the land surrounding Peggys Cove is a preservation area.

She said she wasn't sure what the process would be to allow a parking lot there, except that it would involve working with the Department of Lands and Forestry, which manages preservation land owned by the province.

No one from the Peggys Cove Commission, the body that makes development decisions according to land-use bylaws for the Peggys Cove Preservation Area, responded to a request for an interview.

Page said residents themselves identified traffic management as one of the biggest issues facing the community.

"This just doesn't affect the visitor experience," she said. "It's a safety issue and it's an access issue for local residents and businesses."

Peggys Point Road, the narrow road leading to the lighthouse at Peggys Cove, is often clogged with traffic during the summer months. (Robert Short/CBC)

After listening to residents' concerns about the location, the corporation is now exploring other options for a parking lot — although it hasn't ruled out the first location.

"We want to make this community work for the community so that it can continue to be a living community and also a place where tourists want to visit. But the community comes first," Page said.

Page said it's too early to identify other possible locations.

Crooks acknowledged the creation of a parking lot inevitably means "there's going to be some things destroyed."

But there are two or three spots that "wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb," he said.

He said one suggested location is right at the entrance to the village, by Prospect Road.

About the Author

Frances Willick is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia. Please contact her with feedback, story ideas or tips at frances.willick@cbc.ca

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