Is Peggy’s Cove getting too crowded?

July 27, 2011

Heavy traffic on the narrow roads that wind through idyllic Peggy’s Cove will be part of a study later this year.

About 750,000 people visit the tiny seaside community each year, a number that has grown with an increase in cruise ship visits to Halifax and the completion of the Swissair Flight 111 memorial at nearby Whalesback.

Tourism Department official Bob Book said the department and community want to look at how to preserve the community’s “integrity” while accommodating visitors.

“That’s a difficult balance to try and strike,” said Mr. Book, director of development in the tourism division.

Jack Campbell, owner of the Sou’Wester restaurant, a stone’s throw from the famous Peggys Cove lighthouse, said it may be time to look at limiting the number of buses entering the village.

“I don’t like turning away business any more than anyone else, but you’re going to hurt yourself if you overdo it because you’re not being fair to people or the residents,” he said. “The visitors don’t get a good look at Peggys Cove when it’s overcrowded.”

Mr. Campbell said it would also be nice to make the area more pedestrian-friendly, although it would be difficult to add sidewalks to the narrow roads with shoulders that drop off sharply.

Eliza Manuel, co-chairwoman of the Peggys Cove Preservation Society, said the study could help the area.

“I think everyone would like to walk around the village and not get gassed by diesel fumes or run over by campers,” Ms. Manuel said.

She said she hopes businesses that aren’t in Peggys Cove but have an impact on the area, such as bus tours, will be involved in the study.

Fellow society member Judy Dauphinee said she’s discouraged by problems such as inadequate signs for the Swissair memorial.

“If they don’t fix the problem that’s right in front of you, what’s the good of this study?” Ms. Dauphinee said.

Area MLA Bill Estabrooks said all local residents, not just tourism operators, should be consulted about the situation.

He said he wants to ensure Peggys Cove isn’t turned into a parking lot or a “T-shirt-hawking Coney Island destination.”

A request for proposals for the study closes June 23. Mr. Book said he expects a consultant will be selected by mid- to late July, and the final study completed in four to six months.

The consultant will be expected to get opinions from residents, business owners, tour operators, community groups, environmental experts and others on traffic and how to enhance visitor experiences and services.

The study’s price tag is expected to be less than $49,000.



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