Poor lighthouse road could derail tourism

·2 min read

ST. MARY’S – One of St. Mary’s signature tourist attractions is in danger of becoming a mere afterthought, if something isn’t done about the road that leads to it, says the president of the Port Bickerton and Area Planning Association.

Speaking to the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s April 7 committee of the whole meeting, Donald Dodge said the Port Bickerton Lighthouse and Interpretive Centre may be excellent examples of local history, steeped in Maritime lore, but they may become out of reach to visitors.

“It saddens me to think that with all the opportunities for tourism in place, they may not be accessible soon.”

The problem is the condition of the only route – a municipal road – in and out of the site, which has been deteriorating, with only minimal government maintenance, for several years. Without a safe and reliable road, he said, the lighthouse and centre attraction will no longer be accessible. “Those are the cold, hard facts of it … I came here hoping to strike up a dialogue. What is the municipality prepared to do? How does the Port Bickerton Lighthouse fit into the municipality’s long-term strategy plan, or does it?”

The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Interpretive Centre opened on a seasonal basis in 1997. According to Tourism Nova Scotia’s website, “Since May, 2014, the newly renovated lightkeeper’s residence on site is being operated as both an artist retreat, and as a weekly vacation rental cottage. With 3.7 kilometers of nature trails, the interpretive centre and retreat are part of the Port Bickerton Lighthouse Beach Park.”

Said Dodge, “The association has undertaken general maintenance with provincial help over the past couple of years, but major repairs haven’t been done since the [former N.S. Premier] Darrell Dexter era … If we’re going to promote tourism, we have to have a decent road to get down there. If this whale sanctuary ever comes to fruition, I think it will be a good marriage for this area along with everything else that’s here. And we stand to gain a lot from it in terms of tourism numbers. But we have to have a reliable road and a safer road.”

At the committee of the whole, St. Mary’s Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald acknowledged that the lighthouse and centre are “important tourism components” and confirmed that they are “definitely in the plan” for the area.

Councilllor Courtney Mailman expressed her enthusiasm for the attraction, suggesting that it was “as good or better” than Peggy’s Cove.

Council agreed to help explore options with the association.

Dodge said immediate repairs could cost upwards of $40,000.

Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal