The closest beach to Halifax is barely visited

By Ryan Bellefontaine

What's the closest beach to the city? 

If you ask most Haligonians that question, the answer you're likely to hear is one of two beaches over a half hour drive from the city, Crystal Crescent or Rainbow Haven. But that isn't correct.

Discounting small stretches of sand like Black Rock Beach, the closest beach to downtown Halifax is Maugers. That's the one on McNab's Island.

While Crystal Crescent and Rainbow Haven are jam-packed and overflowing with people on the hottest summer days, which will only worsen with Halifax's growing population, Maugers isn't visited by the vast majority of us.

“It's not used much by people other than the boaters… all the yacht clubs know about it,” said Cathy McCarthy of The Friends of McNabs Island Society. “We estimate there's about 15,000 people that visit the island every year,” she said.

If you don't own a boat, you'll have to take a private ferry service, many of which leave from Eastern Passage.

McCarthy says if the municipality were willing to pay for a part-time ferry service from Woodside to McNab's Island, it would solve the access problem.

“I don't see how it would be that complicated, but there's really no interest from HRM in McNab's Island because it's a provincial park. We've been advocating that HRM should be more involved for a long time,” McCarthy said.

Getting to many of HRM's beaches via public transit is notoriously tricky. McCarthy says Mauger could be an easy and green solution for those who don't have a car.

“HRM, Nova Scotia and even Canada are supposed to be advocating for greener technology and greener transportation… If you go to McNab's Island, you do not need a car. You need access to a public ferry,” McCarthy said.

According to McCarthy, governments have been playing hot potato with the responsibility of letting all residents enjoy the historic island and its sandy beach.

“It receives practically no funding from the province or the federal government… They did a lot of work back around 2010, but then they didn't do anymore since then,” McCarthy said.

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