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dog poop and the Cow Bay wetlands

dog poop and the Cow Bay wetlands Posted on November 13, 2019Leave a comment

Recently a terrible battle has begun with the municipality and a local resident who is attempting to block access to a local beach to dog owners.

local landowner attempts to restrict access to dog owners in the small community of Cow Bay Nova Scotia

The landowner has a legal easement with HRM to provide access to the Silver Sands beach. I have been advised by HRM that the landowner cannot legally restrict access to the beach, and dog owners are still welcome to use the easement.

However, as of November 11th the sign was still located on the easement. Out of sight until you start walking down, but still there and this has now dragged on for 5 weeks.

All this annoys me very greatly as a dog owner, a local resident, and for a host of other reasons. Only the landowners friends and members of the Silver Sands Conservation Society are using the beach now and primarily offleash (even though the sign say dogs must be leashed on his easement), so he has turned an HRM owned property into a private offleash park for a select few dog owners in a roundabout way. HRM purchased the beach in 2003, and they seem to have effectively lost control of the property from my point of view.

From the CBC article on October 4th about this issue there was one thing that really bugged me:

When told municipal staff were looking into the legalities around the easement, Rhyno was defiant.

“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.”


I’m not sure how it worked out but in 2012 Martitime Demolition filed for protection against it’s creditors and much of that appears to be in taxes according to this statement:

this sign is at the head of Cow Bay Road right by the Cow Bay Love sign

I was sent the following photo by Mike Cowper at HRM of the area and what HRM owns.

Arthur Rhyno purchased the larger parcel of land surrounding with the hopes of opening a golf course and resort but that was not allowed. His company name at that time was Sherwood Realty. It was recently changed to Silver Sands Realty and you will see signs all along the Cow Bay Road where they are selling lots that have been recently rezoned by HRM.

Read down a little further about court cases waged between Sherwood Acres Ltd., and the Silver Sands Conservation Society and take note that Ross Rhyno is on the board of directors for the SSCC and is the brother of Arthur Rhyno (to the best of my knowledge) who was the owner of Sherwood Realty, now Silver Sands Realty. It’s amazing what the Registry of Joint Stocks can tell you!

I found this all out by a bit of internet research, and I am now really happy that a dog issue has led me to investigate a larger issue.

I will say on that note that I have walked that beach many times over the years as I have lived in the larger community for 12 years now. I’ve almost never seen dog poop on the beach, but last time I was down I did collect a bag of trash that was primarily composed of Tim Horton’s cups. As a responsible dog owner, I get really, really tired of hearing about dog poop when the streets and parks are littered with trash. Good folks pickup after themselves. Once in a while good dog owners are without a poopy bag and you can’t pick that up with your bare hands. However, most of us also pick up other people’s poop. We dog people are not out to get everyone nobody likes walking in poop, get over it.

I am also a birder and have conducted Christmas bird counts and kept eBird lists at that location since 2015. Here is one I did just after Hurricane Dorian.

Sometimes I bird with my dog and I see no reason not to bring my dog with me when I’m outdoors. All creatures enjoy Mother Nature’s spaces we spend way too much time indoors and it’s not healthy for anyone. Woof!

The Cow Bay Wetlands are supposed to have a level of protection and there is great debate in the community about it. And so I am doing some more digging.

I know the last time I was on that beach earlier this year I noted a new sign about this being a sensitive nesting area for shorebirds down at the back end facing Hartlen Point near the wetlands. I’m not sure who posted the sign but when I find the photo of it on my computer I will post it here.

According to eBird that was in April 2019 I was there birding and that is when I saw the sign so that narrows it down. It’s an excellent birding location and lots of amazing habitat. It’s a shame there is so much development happening there right now, and that a few people are trying to own the little property that is left all for themselves and try to block access to people they are not friends with.

There is a Silver Sands Conservation Society and the landowner who is restricting access is a director for that not-for profit society so I wonder what they have to do with the current state of affairs as they were apparently involved in the sale of the beach property to HRM years ago.

So weird…very concerning. Trying to learn more.

A local lady did a paper with quite a bit of good information here and there is a link in PDF format included.

More to come when I have more time.

All of this is public record so I encourage people to do their own research and make their own conclusions. At best this is an example of a gross abuse of privilege and perceived power in my opinion. There seems to be a LOT going on here.

My honest opinion is that the landowner, Ross Rhyno, doesn’t want anyone to use the easement because he doesn’t want anyone on that beach except his chosen friends and neighbours. The reason I think this is because it only started to look like this recently since earlier this year. I have a series of photos that outline the work that has been done to decorate the easement in the past number of months in 2019. I checked on viewpoint and the property the house is on was sold for $1 (yes one) in 2019 so what that has to do with things, I’m not sure. All I can tell is the property was sold for a dollar and about that time the easement looked much less inviting by the day.

In conversation with clerks at HRM they said that Mr. Rhyno was pushing the legal limits of an easement way too far.

I’d say. And since I live closeby I’ve been driving by regularly and I’ll tell you that pretty much nobody, even people with dogs, walk through that gate and gazebo anymore. People get out of their car, look at it and get back in their car. In previous months and years that was not the case. After all Silver Sands is supposed to be a public park for everyone. But surely it’s hard to tell for Joe Public now.

I know provincial money has been given to the Silver Sands Conservation Society/HRM to the tune of $50K in 2007. Is anyone paying attention to the allocation of municipal or provincial funds and contracts being awarded in the community?

” Silver Sands Conservation Society and HRM: Improvements to Silver Sands Surf park, $50,000″

I would nope no government funding has been involved in the construction of all this on the easement but I’m really wondering what is going on at this point.

would you enter this easement to access the HRM owned property? with or without a dog, this really doesn’t look very inviting
I took this photo in October 2019 to me it appears like more work is being done to deter people from using the easement to the HRM owned property that was purchased from the Rhynos – they sold it to HRM now they are telling certain people they can’t use it – nice trick for fast cash I wonder if HRM can get a $50k refund?

What about my taxdollars Mr. Rhyno? Yes I am suspicious. Very suspicious. If everything is above board then you can make a public statement on your own website 😉 Don’t mess with dog owners. Woof!

As a footnote I also wonder how Ross Rhyno can be on the board of directors for the Silver Sands Conservation Society when he and his brother were involved in a legal battle in the past? There really seems to be quite a conflict of interest here from my point of view. This is from Magen Lillian Hudak’s masters thesis:

“During this time, concerned community stewards formed the Silver Sands Conservation Society, 41 and later on, members of Nova Scotia’s surfing community, concerned with preserving public access to the site, founded the Coastal Access Committee.42 These groups presented a myriad of ecological and social concerns, surrounding potential development at the site, at community-based meetings with municipal planners. In the end, the golf course project, and subsequent cottage and housing plan, was scrapped, not solely due to the monetary issues of the developer alone, but furthermore due to zoning issues, brought up in court cases waged between Sherwood Acres Ltd., and the Silver Sands Conservation
Society.43 Shortly afterward, the Halifax Regional Municipality purchased a tract
of the Silver Sands property to ensure continued public access to the beach.44
This scenario, too, then, can attest to the heightening sense of consciousness that began to promote the preservation of nature, rather than its utility and malleability, as a means to generate profit.”

40 See, for example, Stephen Bornais, “Taking a swing at his dream,” The Daily News, May 6, 2001, 41.
41 See Silver Sands Conservation Society, “Silver Sands Beach Park, Cow Bay, Nova Scotia: Proposal for
42 “The CAC History,” Coastal Access Committee Blog, entry posted July 26, 2008, (accessed 17 February, 2014).
43 See, for example, Brian Flinn, “Golf course proposal worries residents, despite moose reprieve: Critics say
development may eliminate wildlife near Silver Sands beach,” The Daily News, Tuesday, October 3, 2000,
44 “On August 30, 2003 after years of negotiations with at least two property owners; HRM acquired Silver
Sands Beach (approximately 9.5 acres) and a 30, 000 square foot parcel of the headland. The SSCS was
the driving force behind this purchase. As part of the negotiations, the SSCS obtained a legal opinion from
Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales on the ownership of the wetlands behind the beach. [Approximate] value of
this opinion was $4,000.” See Nova Scotia Health Promotion, Sport and Recreation: Recreation Facility
Development Program, “Silver Sands Beach Park – Cow Bay, Executive Summary,” (Cow Bay: February
2006), 5.

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