Common sense or not?
Peggy’s Cove safety concerns spark heated debate
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.”
Waves pound the rocks at Peggy’s Cove in this file photo.