Free camping in Halifax? RVs staying at Point Pleasant Park lot

A Point Pleasant Park neighbour is frustrated about RVs using the parking lot as a campground and what he says is the city's failure to enforce a law prohibiting the practice.

City doesn't allow overnight camping, but neighbour frustrated rule not enforced at park's parking lot

An RV parked Wednesday at Halifax's Point Pleasant Park. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Halifax's Point Pleasant Park is a haven for dog walkers and nature lovers, but recently it's been attracting another kind of visitor — campers in RVs staying overnight in the parking lot.

The location even gets a mention on some camping websites.

There's only one hitch: Camping is not allowed. In fact, visitors aren't even supposed to be in the park between midnight and 5 a.m.

But that rule isn't enforced and RV owners are taking advantage of it, said Malcolm Norton, who lives near Point Pleasant Park and walks his dogs there every morning.

He said he first noticed an RV from Quebec parked in the upper parking lot off Tower Road early this summer. 

"Since then, it's grown. Yesterday, I think we had five campers in the upper parking lot and this morning we had four. There's one that's been there for days," he told CBC's Maritime Noon.

"It just seems the city staff for the parks … they were there emptying garbage and it didn't seem to be any problem for them to see five or so campers in their parking lot."

'Bunch of garbage'

Point Pleasant Park has two parking lots. The lower, much larger one is blocked by a gate at 10 p.m.

Norton said he and his neighbours are concerned about the trend of RVs staying overnight, and sometimes for days, in the upper lot.

"There's definitely people in them. And there's also a bunch of garbage when they leave," Norton said, adding campers also took advantage of the portable toilets installed for Shakespeare By the Sea, the park's summer theatre.

City spokesperson Nick Ritchey confirmed camping is not allowed in the parking lot or the park itself. But even though RVs may be seen in the parking lot off Tower Road, he said they are only breaking the law if they are there between midnight and 5 a.m.

The fine for camping overnight in Point Pleasant or its parking lot is $237.50.

Norton said he and some other residents have contacted the city, but haven't heard back. Halifax Regional Police would not respond either, he said.

"We kind of gobsmacked about this. We're all thinking about selling our homes down here and buying campers. Living tax-free down at the park," he joked.

He said he hasn't spoken to any of the campers because he didn't want to be confrontational about the issue. "We think that should be the job of the city, not the residents."

With files from David Pate