On Wednesday, the Coastal Access Committee (CAC) officially announced the future establishment of a new public park on a small vacant wetland in Cow Bay. The park will provide surfers with easy access to the surf spots known as Minutes and Backyards.
Establishment of the park became possible after the vacant wetland was purchased this year by Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). CAC was instrumental in lobbying HRM to purchase the property from a Cow Bay Resident.
While CAC has been in discussions with HRM for a few years about a park, talks picked up momentum in 2008 when easy access to Minutes and Backyards via private property was cut off by landowners in the area.
Although opening up access to the two surf spots was one of the driving forces behind CAC’s efforts to establish a park in the area, the future Cow Bay park is not intended for surfers alone.
“The property was purchased with the intention of creating a public park with the goal of building a parking lot, trails and boardwalks for surfers, paddlers and coastal users to access the shorelines and for local residents, Nova Scotians and visitors at large to enjoy,” said CAC in a press release.
The park will also help preserve a fragile coastal wetland; the purchased land is a sanctuary for a number of species of plants, fish, birds and provides an important resting place for migratory birds.
History of Minutes and Backyards
According to the Coastal Access Committee, Minutes and Backyards have been surfed for at least three decades.
Minutes first reached prominence when it hosted an international surfing competition called the Red Bull Ice Break in 2004 and 2005.
As one of the provinces premier breaks, Minutes has been featured in numerous magazines, surfing videos and can be found on a number of well known surf travel websites.
For years a local resident allowed surfers to park on his land and access the break from his property.
However, in the past four years, the growth of the surfing population reached a point where up to two hundred people would be crossing private land to access the surf on good days. As a result, the resident cut off public access through his property.
A few hundred meters up the coast from Minutes is the break known as Backyards. For a number of
years, this break was accessed by way of public land; however, access to this break was also lost a
number of years ago.
Plans for the new park
Preliminary plans for the new park on Cow Bay Road include the construction of a parking lot and boardwalk leading to the coast.
Full infrastructure plans will be released later this spring after public consultations with the local community that are to take place on May 27, 2010 at the Cow Bay Community Hall.
The first stage of infrastructure is expected to be completed in the summer/fall of 2010 with the second phase completed in 2011.
The first stage of the proposed infrastructure will be funded by a combination of a substantial private
donation, District 8 Councillor Jackie Barkhouse’s discretionary funds and funds raised in the community by the Coastal Access Committee.
The Coastal Access Committee is raising funds by selling engraved boards on the proposed boardwalk for $100 each. Donors will have their names, names of loved ones, or that of a business engraved in the right-hand side of boards on the boardwalk.
People interested can purchase boards at Emma’s Eatery in Eastern Passage, If Only Surfshop in the South End, Propeller Cold Beer Store in the North End and Kannon Beach Surf & Windsurf Shop in Lawrencetown.
Full details on purchasing boards are available at participating locations and coastalaccessns.blogspot.com. The second stage of the project is contingent on provincial funding and will be completed in 2011.