Com­mon sense or not?

Peggy’s Cove safety con­cerns spark heated de­bate

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCE -

Af­ter two men slipped into the swirling wa­ters of the At­lantic Ocean off Peggy’s Cove in re­cent months, a de­bate over safety has hinged on whether com­mon sense should be enough to pro­tect peo­ple from the nat­u­ral dan­gers at the pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tion in Nova Sco­tia.

Fam­ily and friends of the two men — one from Smith Falls, Ont., who hasn’t been re­cov­ered from the ocean — are push­ing for in­creased safety mea­sures, but their ap­peals have some­times been met with skep­ti­cism from lo­cals, par­tic­u­larly on so­cial media.

Last week, James Rubec of Toronto wrote to a Hal­i­fax news­pa­per af­ter his friend was res­cued from the wa­ter about two weeks ago, ask­ing the province: “When will you ma­ture your tourism prod­uct to a level where it is safe for all?”

Rubec has sug­gested bar­ri­cades around the park­ing lot at Peggy’s Cove to fun­nel visi­tors to a turnstyle where they would be in­formed of the dan­gers, along with mon­i­tors to let peo­ple know when they are putting them­selves in peril on the smooth and some­times slick rocks. He also wants a boat and a trained team avail­able to help any­one who ends up in the wa­ter.

“It doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily need to be a neg­a­tive that changes are com­ing … it could be ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial to the (Peggy’s Cove) com­mu­nity,” he said in an in­ter­view.

Those on the other side of the de­bate think the so­lu­tion should be based on per­sonal ac­count­abil­ity.

“Yes, we can put more signs down there. Ab­so­lutely. But there are signs down there to be­gin with,” said Gary Bid­dle, the vice pres­i­dent of At­lantic Tours.

At­lantic Tours trans­ports thou­sands of visi­tors to the site ev­ery year and its guides warn visi­tors of the dan­ger, said Bid­dle.

“The un­for­tu­nate part is — and I’m talk­ing about the in­di­vid­ual that lost his life — if he grew up, as an ex­am­ple, in the Toronto area, and the On­tario area, he may not know what it’s all about down here,” he said.

“And that part of it I can cer­tainly un­der­stand. But when you don’t know, you shouldn’t be tak­ing any chances.”

The ar­gu­ment over com­mon sense ver­sus some sort of of­fi­cial in­ter­ven­tion has pro­duced heated re­sponses, but Rubec said cooler heads should pre­vail.

“There’s go­ing to be al­ways a vo­cal el­e­ment that says that On­tar­i­ans are stupid, or some­thing like that,” he said.

“(But) I think when you look at the is­sue in earnest … most peo­ple will re­move the emo­tion­al­ity of per­sonal change from it and come to an align­ment where, OK, a lit­tle bit of per­sonal ac­com­mo­da­tion makes sense.”

METRO HAL­I­FAX PHOTO

Waves pound the rocks at Peggy’s Cove in this file photo.

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