Peggy’s Cove: Questions & Answers

PEGGY'S COVE MASTER PLANNING PROJECT

There appears to be a lot of work happening right now in Peggy’s Cove beyond the viewing deck—what’s happening there?

Develop Nova Scotia has been advancing various projects identified in a draft Master Plan co-created with community.

Priorities being addressed focus on climate change mitigation, parking, traffic and pedestrian routing and management, and public amenities, including:

  • road raising work and pedestrian safety improvements
  • VIC parking lot expansion
  • accessible viewing deck
  • revamp of turnaround near lighthouse
  • community breakwater reconstruction
  • DeGarthe Studio (historic fish store) repair and renovation
  • Public washroom at the Cove
  • Parking Inventory System to inform Traffic Management Plan

Why now?

The challenges facing Peggy’s Cove are not new. The urgency to address them is based on decreasing quality of life for residents, increasing impacts of climate change, and challenges in providing a quality visitor experience.

Planning work with the community has been underway since 2018 to identify solutions. The context of COVID-19 combined with the availability of funding afforded an opportunity to do the work when visitation is lower than usual. The goal is to have significant projects substantially complete for when we hope to see tourism traffic begin to build back.

Why not just leave Peggy’s Cove alone.

Keeping things status quo is not an option. This village of 40 welcomes 700,000 visitors in a regular year. It is often too crowded, vulnerable to coastal flooding, is inaccessible in key areas, and suffers from inadequate infrastructure. Despite those issues, people continue to visit the area in growing numbers, and the community wants to be able to host them with pride.

The plan improves accessibility, safety, sustainability and resilience of both the community and the tourism destination. We hope to contribute to a place where everyone can participate. Coastal protection and enhanced destination management will allow people to enjoy Peggy’s Cove for decades to come.

We have worked to limit change only to where it is essential to meet the objectives of the plan while minimizing impact on the spectacular natural landscape and the community. This plan is supported by the best data collected by experts and we believe contributes in meaningful way to the resilience of Peggy’s Cove.

The plan will evolve over time in response to how people engage with it. Our hope is that once people understand what is being proposed, they will see it as what it is—a positive step towards a sustainable future for Peggy’s Cove.

What studies were completed to inform this project and your decisions?

As part of the planning and design process, a number of studies have been completed for all projects underway at Peggy’s Cove, including the viewing deck.  Many of studies have been posted as part of the public tendering process. They include:

  • Wetland delineation
  • Coastal study
  • LiDAR data collection
  • Archaeology
  • Geotechnical
  • Traffic Data Collection

Where can the public view reports on environmental assessment?

The Viewing Deck portion of the project did not trigger an environmental assessment because the work is on an existing roadway. However, we did engage an environmental firm to look for sensitive areas—primarily wetlands—that needed to be considered where we were working throughout Peggy’s Cove. The Viewing Deck did not show as a sensitive area. This is largely because it is on existing fill for a paved roadway that we will decommission as a road for vehicles in favour of an accessible pedestrian way. MacCallum Environmental was contracted for this work and they produced a report on the two wetlands they did identify in the Cove. Required permits were issued by Nova Scotia Environment for the work that took place in those two areas.

To view the map identifying wetland areas, click here. To view the Wetland Alteration Application, click here.

We hear there was community backlash with regard to a proposed parking lot – is that going ahead?

At an earlier stage of the planning process an additional surface parking lot was proposed.  Concerns over the location and the impact on the landscape were raised by the community.  Collectively with community members, we developed alternative ideas to manage vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The proposed parking lot has not been advanced at this time and, instead we will work with community to approach interventions for traffic management in an incremental and informed way. In the current phase of work, we are expanding the existing VIC parking lot to add 153 new parking spaces parking spaces, including 4 accessible spots. We are also installing a parking inventory system to help track usage. This will improve existing traffic information and inform additional management strategies to address future parking demand. We will continue to work closely with the community as this longer-term work unfolds.

Have you thought about the impact of sea level rise and climate change in this work?

Climate change, sea level rise, and storm surges were definitely identified as an increasing risk to Peggy’s Cove. The raising of the road and the reconstruction of the breakwater are all measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change. A coastal study, including storm modeling and LiDAR data, helped to formulate the solutions and designs.

Peggy’s Cove Master Plan Available to public?

The Peggy’s Cove Master Plan is still in draft form and has undergone a significant amount of iteration in our work with the community and Project Working Group. Information is regularly updated on this page. Once we update the master plan, we will make it available here.

I want to share my thoughts and feedback—what is the best way to do that?

Develop Nova Scotia is open to all feedback, both positive and negative. We will continue to seek and accept feedback, are scheduling public webinars in the next few weeks and reaching out to groups who have expressed concerns to invite meetings and further engagement. You can also email your questions, ideas, and feedback to peggyscove@developns.ca.

Will feedback you receive now have any impact on the work? Isn’t it a done deal?

Places are iterated and built over time as people engage with them. Our work is never really done and, in the case of the Viewing Deck, it won’t be done until the structure is built. We are open to receiving feedback and hearing concerns. We read every message you send and all that we can find online and we consider each comment carefully. Your feedback can certainly cause us to us to make adjustments in small or substantial ways.

DETAILS OF THE VIEWING DECK

What does the Viewing Deck include?

It will be a public space where people can view the lighthouse and experience the waves and rocks in a way that is fully accessible and provides a safer and accessible viewing option for all. Other related improvements include public washrooms and improvements to trail connections that lead to the lighthouse and nearby parking area.

An aerial view outlining details of the Accessible Viewing Deck

Does this mean visitors won’t be able to access the lighthouse or walk on the rocks?

The viewing deck will not prevent visitors from accessing the rocks and natural landscape. In fact it will be easier for people to explore the lighthouse and coastal area surrounding it. There will be two entry points towards the lighthouse and coastline from the Viewing Deck.

How does the Viewing Deck address safety?

The Viewing Deck will provide a safer and more accessible option for viewing the water, waves, natural landscape, and lighthouse for those who need or prefer it. The purpose of the small piece that extends towards the lighthouse and coastline (about 2000 square feet in size) is to bring people to a point where they can experience the ocean and the rocks together without disrupting the iconic views we all know and love.

The Viewing Deck can also be closed to the public during unsafe conditions, providing an additional signal to stay off the rocks.

In addition, public washrooms, which didn’t exist in this area of the Cove, will include rooms that contain equipment to help in water rescues and medical emergencies. The design was informed by a detailed coastal study and designed with data and regular rogue wave distances in mind to mitigate risks associated with the ocean’s unpredictability.

An aerial view outlining details of the Accessible Viewing Deck and highlighting the only portion that extends beyond on the existing roadway.

What about the ongoing problem of safety on the rocks?

The Viewing Deck provides a safer viewing option for visitors. They will be encouraged to use it and alerted through its closure and signage if there are safety issues associated with weather and wave action. These should serve as added deterrents to venturing onto black rocks or ignoring weather warnings. However, there is always a measure of common sense required. The Viewing Deck also creates a sense of arrival for visitors who are not familiar with the area (or even the ocean) and provide an opportunity to educate on safety in a place where visitors are likely to be funneled.

How does the Viewing Deck address accessibility?

The new Viewing Deck will create an accessible way to experience Peggy’s Cove, creating an opportunity for everyone to enjoy this special place. The small portion of the deck that extends out from the roadway (about 14 meters) will provide a view and experience of the lighthouse, rocks, and waves from a single, accessible location and a truly inclusive experience.

The new washroom that is also part of the planned improvements for the Viewing Deck area is also accessible.

The announcement included the release of a construction tender for the Viewing Deck—has a construction company been contracted?

The tender to construct the viewing deck was posted to the provincial tender site by Develop Nova Scotia on Friday, January 15, 2021. The contract is expected to be awarded by the week of February 16,2021.

How does this help tourism providers?

The viewing deck will provide an accessible and safer option for visitors arriving by way of providers, resulting in a better visitor experience and capacity to welcome the growing number of visitors expected once travel restrictions are lifted.

In addition, the traffic and pedestrian routing and management will improve movement of tour buses and other vehicles.  Expanded VIC parking lot will mean better management of cars in the small area of Peggy’s Cove.  All changes will help improve pedestrian safety.

When will it be complete?

The Viewing Deck is expected to be complete in June 2021.

The preliminary design rendering looked massive and intrusive. There are also folks online saying it’s bigger than you’re reporting—can you clarify?

All in the deck is around 14,000 square feet. 12,000 of those 14,000 square feet are being reclaimed from the roadway. The remaining 2,000 square feet does extend over the landscape, but it was carefully designed to blend with the landscape and avoid intruding too far on the coastline. Rest assured that it will not overshadow the lighthouse or disturb the iconic views we all know and love.

Can you clarify how much of the coastline the Viewing Deck will cover? How will it disturb the landscape?

85% of the Accessible Viewing Deck is being built on top of an existing roadway rather than being built on the natural landscape. It will replace a place for cars with an accessible place for people.

The remaining 15% (or 2,000 square feet) does extend beyond the existing road but it is cantilevered (or only supported from one side) to avoid any new ground disturbance. This cantilever extends out only 14 meters from the roadway and will not to impact the iconic views of the lighthouse or coastline.

Will there be 3D renderings produced to show the impact on views from various perspectives?

We are connecting back with our design partners on this right now. From our perspective, 3D renderings are not the best way to display the Viewing Deck. Models like this often crop out elements of the landscape and don’t provide a contextual view. The new aerial maps we have created are helpful in showing a full view of Peggy’s Cove in full context and to scale.

You’ve said that the Viewing Deck has a minimal impact on the landscape, but you can see blasted rocks in various places around Peggy’s Cove right now. Where did it come from?

In our community engagement, we heard that this work needed to minimize disruption of the landscape and rocks. In our approach to this work, we have been as light on the landscape as possible, however, some of the work did require some light blasting. In particular, there was some blasting required for the VIC parking lot expansion and the new road loop near the lighthouse.

The new VIC parking lot expansion will add 153 new parking spaces, including 4 accessible spots, and was a compromise reached in collaboration with the community to revise our approach to traffic management. Again, not every community member supports this element of the plan, but it was a decision that we made together. The work on the VIC parking lot is part of our incremental approach to traffic management that avoided the need for a proposed parking lot in the Peggy’s Cove Preservation Area.

The community also asked us to ensure that any rock that was removed be worked into other areas of the project to avoid the need to ship in materials. The blasted rock that’s currently on site in Peggy’s Cove will be built into the new breakwater we’re building as a climate mitigation measure and some will be used under the new boardwalks, which is preferable to using foreign gravels.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Why is this the first we’re hearing about it in the media?

We haven’t been keeping this work a secret. Information on the Peggy’s Cove project has been available on our website since 2018 and is updated frequently. Community engagement efforts in 2018/2019 were also open to the broader community and general public. This is also not the first time the work has been covered by the media. The tender issued in 2019 for the design work and upgrades that are currently underway was covered by the media in November 2019. Around the same time, there was also media coverage of a proposed parking lot, which is an element of the plan that we have pulled back based on community feedback and input.

Did you do engagement? What did it entail?

Yes. Develop Nova Scotia’s work always focuses most heavily on those who call a community home. However, we engaged further to include tourism operators, businesses and residents in Peggy’s Cove and surrounding areas, tourism stakeholders, the Mi’kmaq community, and first responders.

We also set up an open design studio in the community for a week in February 2019 (called Peggy’s Cove Design Week). With an open-door format, we welcomed members of the general public as well as residents, business owners, and operators to drop in and talk to the architects, planners, and engineers about the issues and ideas that mattered to them. Develop Nova Scotia also ran an online survey that was open to the public and shared through our digital channels.

The engagement has continued past the planning stage. We created a Project Working Group composed of residents, the Peggy’s Cove Commission, design consultants, and other government agencies. Over the past two years, we’ve held 12 formal meetings with the community and many, many informal meetings with the community, businesses, tourism stakeholders and general public.

Designs were also brought back to the whole community at various design stages. We hold regular community update meetings to address any construction issues and answer questions.

Is the community on board with this work?

Residents of Peggy’s Cove were integrally involved in the planning process for their community. They expressed a desire to be able to welcome and host visitors with pride and confidence in their safety and quality of experience. The work with the community was very hands on, and didn’t stop with planning work. Residents and business owners and operators remained engaged in the concept design process for the infrastructure as well through a Project Working Group. As with any community engagement process, there are a range of perspectives that we worked to balance. Along the way we have remained open to feedback and made changes all the way along.

Most of the community engaged and worked with us and each other to create a common vision. To be clear, not everyone engaged and not everyone who did engage likes everything about the plan. But we believe most of the community and other stakeholders supported the overall plan. And we believe they still do.

Did your efforts include engagement with First Nations?

Yes, with direction and guidance from the provincial Office of Aboriginal Affairs (OAA), appropriate notification regarding First Nations consultation was provided.

Members of the Mi’kmaq community recently expressed concerns about this work—what are you doing to address this and engage with them?

We received a note from a member of the Mi’kmaq community concerned the deck might interfere with a site of their sacred sweetgrass. We have verified that the Accessible Viewing Deck does not impact any sweetgrass and now we are working to be doubly sure that no other sweetgrass areas are impacted by any of our work.

We are aware of the importance of the area and we have had ongoing consultation with the Mi’kmaq community. This feedback caused us to pause and double check our plans.

We have consulted with KMKNO (Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office) through the prescribed process and Develop Nova Scotia is working to address any issues raised and also to explore opportunities related to archeology, sweetgrass, tourism, and site interpretation. It is critical to us that this project respects the land and people who care for it and we also plan to engage the Mi’kmaq community to tell their story of the significance of Peggy’s Cove and their long history on this land.

We completed archeological studies as part of the planning process. We also undertook a more detailed archeological assessment for the Viewing Deck project and to update our original study to account for changes to the areas of work. The assessment report is now complete and has been submitted to Communities, Culture and Heritage, and we’ll be sharing the results with KMKNO to ensure the recommendations associated with that report are followed.

We have been working with and through KMKNO who are helping facilitate further engagement with the wider Mi’kmaq community. Through that work, we are engaging with The Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network, and community leaders (including sweetgrass harvesters).

MAINTENANCE OF THE VIEWING DECK

Will it be closed during weather events and unsafe conditions?

During mild storm events the platform will provide a much safer option for viewing wave action at Peggy’s Cove. During extreme storm events, the deck can be closed as a safety precaution – providing an additional signal to visitors of the danger of storm-charged waves.

Who manages/maintains the infrastructure?

The viewing platform and other infrastructure will be managed and maintained by the province.

Will the painting/maintenance of the lighthouse be included?

The community identified maintenance of the lighthouse as needing to be addressed. We believe the investment in infrastructure and improvements in Peggy’s Cove presents an opportunity for to find a longer-term solution to manage the lighthouse.  We’ll assist all interested parties in that objective however we are able.

FUNDING OF THE PEGGY’S COVE PROJECTS

How does the funding for the Viewing Deck breakdown between partners?

  • $1.4M from ACOA
  • $1.7M from the Province of Nova Scotia through the Tourism Revitalization of Icons Program

Is there stimulus funding included in any of the projects in Peggy’s Cove?

Develop Nova Scotia received $40M of provincial stimulus funding for a variety of projects focused on marine infrastructure, focused on working waterfronts, main street improvements and key tourism destinations.  A portion of that was earmarked for work in Peggy’s Cove and is reflected in the $6.2M of projects already underway.

What is the Tourism Revitalization of Icons Program? The Tourism Revitalization of Icons Program is an infrastructure funding program focused on revitalizing Nova Scotia’s most competitive tourism icons.

Peggy’s Cove: Questions & Answers

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