Nova Scotia

Peggys Cove adds more measures to keep visitors safe

The province announced Thursday it is beefing up preventive measures at Peggys Cove to keep visitors away from the water's edge.

Video message and interpretative panels part of new warning strategy

More signs and warnings will be installed at Peggys Cove to discourage visitors from wandering out onto treacherous rocks where they could be swept to their deaths. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

The province announced Thursday it is beefing up preventive safety measures at Peggys Cove to keep visitors away from the water's edge and the risk of being swept into the ocean.

With weeks to go before this year's tourist season begins, the government said it is adopting recommendations from a task force made up of members from the community, local organizations and government departments. 

The changes include:

  • New and enhanced safety signs to be installed in coming weeks.
  • A video warning message played at the visitor information centre.
  • Tourism staff will improve communications with visitors and tour operators.
  • Interpretive panels will be installed describing the strength of the ocean.
  • A social media safety campaign will be launched at the start of this tourism season.
James Donald Quattrocchi of Smiths Falls, Ont., died last April at Peggys Cove. (Facebook)

The Sou'Wester Restaurant is also installing rock barriers around the parking lot to guide visitors towards warning signs.

The mother of an Ontario man who died last April at Peggys Cove had been concerned that there was no lifesaving equipment near the edge of the rocky waterfront at the time of her son's death.

Balancing access with safety

But Caroline Quattrocchi now says information and research into water conditions along the coastline has convinced her that prevention is the most important way to prevent future tragedies.

Her son, James Donald Quattrocchi, 25, was swept into the Atlantic Ocean by a rogue wave while visiting Peggys Cove with his girlfriend, Brittany Smith.

"There's probably nothing that would have saved Jamie once he went into the water," Caroline Quattrocchi told CBC's Maritime Noon. "So looking at public education and prevention is certainly the most important thing that's done at this point."

Police, paramedics and firefighters are shown at Peggys Cove last April when James Donald Quattrocchi, 25, was swept into the water. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

'Awareness is the appropriate step to take'

Almost half a million people visit Peggys Cove every year. 

"The objective is to balance public access with public safety," Business Minister Mark Furey said of the changes.

The recommendations came from work done with community volunteers and emergency service providers. They recommended more signs placed in "strategic" locations, as well as a video display outlining the risks in the visitor information centre at Peggys Cove.

"I think the objective really is to bring greater awareness to the risk at the rocks, and we've engaged a number of people who had the unfortunate experience of witnessing and/or experiencing and responding to those circumstances at Peggys Cove," Furey said.

"The general consensus is that awareness is the appropriate step to take."

Power of the ocean

The province estimates the total cost for interpretive panels will be $10,000, with the social media marketing strategy expected to cost another $15,000.

When asked whether having patrols at the site would reduce the risk, Furey said patrols actually put those people at risk of being swept away trying to help someone else.

Quattrocchi said she is happy with the safety improvements, adding her son wasn't on the black rocks that are indicated as dangerous on the current signs.

"Jamie was on a pink rock and the signs do say black rocks and they do say that the rocks are slippery. It was dry and a wave came out of nowhere, with no like waves before or after it," she said.

Coming back to Nova Scotia

"If people aren't educated about the power of the ocean and about how those situations can occur and you have no warning, then we're missing a huge component of the public education campaign. 

"Mr. Furey did assure me that those kinds of things would be included in the information that will be available to tourists at Peggys Cove."

Quattrocchi said she is coming back to Nova Scotia on the anniversary of her son's death.

"Brittany and I are coming and I invited Mr. Furey to be part of our visit and to be able to personally show us the improvements that have been made at Peggys Cove."

With files from CBC's Maritime Noon

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