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Develop Nova Scotia eyes wharf upgrades, federal help for Lunenburg waterfront

Alan Altass, who previously worked as a manager at Scotia Trawler (Smith & Rhuland Shipyards) looks on as work begins on the Big Boat Shed — one of Develop Nova Scotia’s key initiatives over the next five years.
Alan Altass, who previously worked as a manager at Scotia Trawler (Smith & Rhuland Shipyards) looks on as work begins on the Big Boat Shed — one of Develop Nova Scotia’s key initiatives over the next five years. - Josh Healey

Tourism, working waterfront part of town’s allure: Angel

From rebuilding wharves to federal partnerships, Develop Nova Scotia is looking to the future of the Lunenburg waterfront.

This latest master plan, which was updated since last year’s public feedback, outlines future projects along the waterfront over a five-year span.

Jennifer Angel, president and CEO for Develop Nova Scotia, said previous iterations of the plan had struggled to combine the working waterfront and the town’s booming tourism industry.

However, she said, the Crown corporation has realized that tourists come to Lunenburg to experience the working waterfront.

Angel said recent projects like the Zwicker Wharf and the Big Boat Shed are just two examples of marrying tourism and industry.

“Those two strategic priorities can work really well together,” she explained during an interview with the South Shore Breaker.

“When we’re talking about our plans, we’re looking beyond the bounds of our property to consider the bigger picture.”

And when it comes to the bigger picture, repairing and upgrading existing wharves is chief amongst Develop Nova Scotia’s priorities.

Goals include making wharves more accessible to fishers in the off-season, finding funding to repair the government wharf and installing a floating breakwater.

Although wharf maintenance isn’t sexy, Angel said it was a vital component to the tourism, fishing and boat building industries in town.

“We need to continue revitalizing those wharves that play a role in supporting these sectors,” she said.

Work has also already begun on other key projects like the Ocean Gear seawall, stabilizing the Zwicker building and more.

When asked about the combined project costs, Angel said the plan estimated a $10 million price tag but added that the dollar figure was fluid.

Project prices, she said, would be determined on a case by case basis.

And some believe the federal government could do more to help waterfront development.

Gerry Rolfsen, a board member for the Lunenburg Waterfront Association, said that Lunenburg is one of only two — Quebec City being the other — urban UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.

“The perception in Lunenburg, to some extent, is that the feds could be supporting us more than they have done in the past,” said Rolfsen.

He noted there are some challenges given most of Lunenburg is privately owned but that ACOA was one option for leveraging more funds; for example, the Big Boat Shed project is being partly funded by ACOA money.

When asked about federal money, Angel said that Develop Nova Scotia already has a good understanding with the government.

As per the plan, Develop Nova Scotia is looking to explore an enhanced federal role ranging from funding to a marine presence.

Overall, Rolfsen said that the Lunenburg Waterfront Association — which is on the waterfront steering committee — was happy with the proposed plan.

“We think this master plan is a fairly strong document,” he said, adding that progress takes time.

“Of course, with wharves and old buildings, something is always falling in the water that you have to deal with. It’s a long process but were very pleased with the way it’s going.”

Develop Nova Scotia, formerly known as the Waterfront Development Corporation, originally purchased their Lunenburg waterfront properties from Clearwater in 2006.

The Crown corporation was rebranded in 2018.

@joshrjhealey / joshua.rj.healey@gmail.com

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