This time we aren’t talking about loads of dog poop, rather boulders.
Clearly things continue to escalate at the Silver Sands Beach Park in Cow Bay, Nova Scotia.
I have questions and suggestions of course. You may think I am just a crazy dog lady, but I am pretty well rounded after a number of trips around earth, and one of my many hobbies is birding. I have been an active member of the Nova Scotia Bird Society for 5 years, volunteered for them in the past for almost 2 years as their media coordinator, and have logged over 300 species in Nova Scotia since I started birding 5 years ago.
Habitat protection, conservation, wetland protection, and general good stewardship of my natural surroundings is especially important to me.
Silver Sands Beach is an important stop on the Christmas Bird Counts, home to nesting Spotted Sandpipers, a stopping area for a large number of shorebirds such as Semipalmated Plovers, and gets a larger number American Golden Plovers than most other spots in the province. Okay, not more than the Sydney Airport but I digress. Many rare vagrant birds pass through Silver Sands, and after Hurricane Dorian many birders, myself included, visited to find large numbers of displaced Caribbean species such as the Black Skimmer.
155 bird species have been recorded at Silver Sands over the years, and if it were easier to walk on (cobble beach) there would surely be more, and it’s an impressive number for a Nova Scotia eBird hotspot at any rate.
Since the day Paul Palmater did the CBC did the article on this back in the October of 2019, I had a sneaking suspicion this entire situation has nothing to do with dog poop at all, and I believe that more than ever at this point.
Today, large boulders were being dumped near the waterline that effectively make the beach inaccessible at low tide, and they have been dumping loads all day.
There is talk in the surf community about a fear of losing access to the Silver Sands Beach, and they also have interest in being provided official access to surf via the Hartlen Point DND property.
As well, the Nova Scotia birding community has long known the Hartlen Point property to be one of the most important migratory points in Nova Scotia. 298 bird species have been officially recorded at Hartlen Point over the years and birders come from around the world to bird there.
And from what I understand, surfers from far and away come to ride the waves in Cow Bay.
A few years ago, I attended a meeting at the Nova Scotia Nature Trust and Dr. Ian McLaren suggested that the NSNT should investigate protecting some of the land and coastline at Hartlen Point.
At the back of the golf course along the shore the property basically backs onto the Silver Sands Beach area. To the birds it is all the same really. When the tide is low you can walk across the tidal channel that separates the two portions of the coastline. I guess what I am saying is I would love it if the Nova Scotia Nature Trust could protect the entire strip of coastline along Silver Sands and Hartlen Point. And the Rhyno family could donate, land as potentially so could HRM.
The Jakeman family sold a portion of their land for the Flag Pond Coast Access Park that opened in 2012. They sold 9 acres of land for the assessed value, and anyone can access it without difficulty today. By contrast the Rhyno family sold HRM a similar parcel of land (half of what they originally agreed to sell) and is now restricting access to the legal easement that accompanied the sale of the land, and as of July 17th dumping boulders on the beach that make it even more difficult to access. Very different family legacies for sure.
A point of interest though, rarely do surfers seem to use the Flag Pond park, but every time there is a swell Silver Sands is jam packed with surfers.
There has been community fighting and legal battles involving the developers, Sherwood Acres (Art and Ross Rhyno), and as of 2014 one of the developers (Ross Rhyno and his domestic partner, Amall Massey) are on the Silver Sands Conservation Society. And that is where I think things have gone wrong as they are limiting access via the easement on their property for over 10 months now, and to me this appears to be a conflict of interest. As well they installed a Gazebo which nobody can use as it’s not included in the actual park land. It is completely legal for them to do that, but it looks to park visitors as though it is part of the park but then they read the sign and realize they cannot use it they are surprised. To me, that is inflammatory, and I have never seen the property owners use it and I drive by there all the time so I can’t think of why they put it there other than to antagonize people. It seems to me they are creating their own battles on the easement, and to what end? I mean really go drive to the Silver Sands Beach Park (aka the Moose) and form your own opinion but I see a lot of first time visitors scratching their head in confusion and disbelief.
You can read the history here and starting on page 160 of the document you can find out about the sale of the property to Sherwood Acres in 2000 and the community concerns and issues that have ensued over the year. Lots of environmental and rezoning issues.
Anyway, if paying taxes on the property is Ross Rhyno’s issue as he was quoted as saying by the CBC in October 2019, I would suggest that donating his easement to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust might save him a bundle in taxes. BTW, we all pay taxes Ross and mine have been used to purchase a property you are blocking access to, but hey we all have our problems, I guess.
I mean it’s possible to make a donation of land out of the goodness of your heart, but it’s also a good tax break for those who don’t do things for altruistic reasons. Either way, I think it would be a lovely solution as you don’t have to pay taxes on land you don’t own.
My question is, why did HRM taxpayers pay for a property they may not be able to access and what is to be done about that?
Stairs from the parking lot might not be a bad idea as HRM owns the land all the way to the water there according to this photo. The trouble is if Ross keeps dumping boulders near the water mark even with stairs it will be difficult to access the beach portion of the park at low tide. We found out this week via Gary Young that HRM is planning to resurvey the area. Why things are being done in advance of the survey is beyond my comprehension unless someone knows something and is not forthcoming with information.
Also, why is the Silver Sands Conservation Society in existence, can we please see their financial statements, and why were they given grant money from the province?
Why did the Silver Sands Conservation Society use some of their grant money to pay for a survey to find out the value of the wetlands?
Why did the Ross Rhyno insist on getting a supreme court ruling to deem Cow Bay Lake as freshwater? That effectively removes coastal protection by the way.
What the heck is going on? It should be clear at this point that is has nothing at all to do with dog poop. Ross was quoted back in October 2019 by the CBC as saying:
“If that’s the case then I’ll shut the whole easement down and no one will go down there,” said Rhyno. “I’m paying taxes on this property. I own it. I want people to respect it and, if they don’t, I’ll close it off.”
The article caught my attention immediately because of the dog angle, but that language speaks to me about a desire to cut off access to the beach to everyone. With the dumping of boulders along the access road and up to the waterline today, I believe this more than ever.
I drove by the Silver Sands Beach Park today and took this photo. The HRM sign for the park is missing. Not sure what is going on but let us hope it’s not going to get renamed the Silver Sands Parking Lot Park!
The new sign for the easement is there though.
Well during a global pandemic Ross Rhyno decided he wanted to restrict access to a beloved community coastline and beach. I decided I would spend my time trying to shine light on the matter. Life is about making good choices. I feel good about mine.