Environment Media release

Press release: Black Point Beach Preservation Group pleased with ruling granting review of James Beach rock wall placement

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For Immediate Release

November 16, 2020

Hearing scheduled for January 20, 2021.

Black Point, Pictou County – A group of Pictou Country residents and cottage owners is heartened by a judicial decision granting them approval to proceed with legal action against the Department of Lands and Forestry in a dispute over the placement of an armour rock wall.

Despite the province’s attempts to have the case dismissed, Justice Ann E. Smith granted applicants the right to a judicial review of the Minister’s decision to allow construction of a rock wall at James Beach in Black Point. Her ruling also includes awarding costs to the applicants.

“We’re very pleased with this decision,” said Beth Skerrett, spokesperson for group. “Let’s remember that at the center of our complaint is the public’s right to access the Crown Land below the ordinary high water mark on any beach in Nova Scotia.”

The group contends that the placement of the rock wall violates the Nova Scotia Beaches Act, the Crown Lands Act and the Endangered Species Act, and sets a dangerous precedent with regard to public beach access.

In May, Skerrett asked Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin to review the placement of the wall. In his June response, he stated that no permits were required, as the work was within the boundaries of private land, above the mean high water mark. He also recommended she consult with legal counsel on the issue.

“This seems like a very odd way for a minister to respond,” said Skerrett. “The Minister is asking Nova Scotians to use their own private funds to enforce provincial laws and regulations protecting our beaches.”

Rankin is no longer Minister of Lands and Forestry and has entered the Provincial Liberal leadership race.

The group says Rankin’s ruling fails to address the fact that the rock wall is a new construction and sits below the ordinary high water mark, creating an impassable obstacle on the beach from  mid to high tide.

The hearing is set for January 20, 2021.

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