Residents fight to save access to N.S. park as it expands for campers

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FALL RIVER, N.S. - Some residents in the Fall River, N.S., area are fighting to save access to a local provincial campground.
Laurie Park is slated to undergo a multimillion-dollar facelift over the next year, but the improvements for campers could curtail the use of the park.
"First of all, it's a camping park," said Harold Carroll, the director of parks and recreation with the Natural Resources Department.
The small, 65-acre park and campground has seen few improvements over the last 40 years.
"It's a tired park," Carroll said.
The small, close-together camp sites no longer match park standards or the camping community's requirements.
Larger camping sites will be able to fit a range of uses from tenting to trailers, Carroll said.
Improvements will also include flush toilets and showers, neither of which are available.
However, expanding the camping portion of the park will put the squeeze on the day-use area.
A group called the Friends of Laurie Park has turned to the Internet to fight to keep unrestricted access to portions of the park reserved for day use. The group has launched sites on Twitter and Facebook and has its own website, www.savelauriepark.ca.
Worries that the renovated park won't include a public beach are well-founded.
"We need to provide opportunities for the camping public and whether you can also then accommodate a walk-in or day-use opportunity in that same site is a very difficult challenge because you only have a very small beach," Carroll said.
"You can't have both and have a functioning campground."
A public information session was held last week to show residents the concept plan and to get feedback on how local residents use the park.
But the meeting got a little raucous, Carroll said, with some people wanting answers about what was in store for the park.
"We know that there are a lot of walkers going in there," he said.
But Carroll said his department still wants to get more feedback about how residents use the facility.
The department has $2.6 million to spend on the improvements, but officials won't know how far that money will go until the project goes to the tender stage, Carroll said.
The money is being provided through a federal-provincial stimulus program.
The park will be closed for the next year while the work is underway.

Organizations: Natural Resources Department

Geographic location: FALL RIVER, Laurie Park

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