Nova Scotia

Annapolis Valley canal reopened for recreation after community pushes back

For decades, swimmers and walkers have enjoyed the White Rock canal in the Annapolis Valley with little concern for the hydroelectric dam downstream. 

However, Nova Scotia Power briefly cut off public access earlier this month to begin installing a fence at the site. 

Julie Harrington, who lives in Gaspereau, N.S., walks her dog along the trail year-round and swims in the canal on hot summer days. She said the community was upset by the closure of the recreation area on Nova Scotia Power property. 

“The community thinks that this is a very safe place to exercise and enjoy the outdoors and Nova Scotia Power thinks it’s a very dangerous place,” said Harrington. 

The provincial utility hosted a public meeting Thursday after receiving complaints about the closure and apologized for not consulting the community in its effort to improve safety. 

“We have some safety concerns because we’ve seen a real increase in usage [at the site] over the last number of years,” said Jennifer Parker, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power. “It is an active electricity power station. Although the water might look very calm, there can be high currents and there’s certainly work vehicles.” 

‘All options are on the table’ 

Parker said the site has been reopened to the public and the utility will work with the community to maintain access. 

“I think all options are on the table,” she said. “We really do want to make sure that there’s a way that we can continue to use the site and that the public can continue to use the site.” 

One idea pitched at the public meeting was a lighting system that would indicate whether the water is safe to swim in. 

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Harrington said she would like to see the half-installed fence removed from the site. She said it blocks a stairwell in and out of the canal. 

“Those stairs were actually installed by Nova Scotia Power many years ago,” she said. “The corporate memory is short.” 

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