Stairway to Joggins beach removed

Residents concerned that beach access restricted

Darrell Cole
Published on August 11, 2011
The Department of Natural Resources has removed a set of stairs from Hardscrabble Hill down to the beach at Joggins. Residents are concerned with the decision saying it will restrict access to the beach. Darrell Cole – Amherst Daily News

JOGGINS – Residents are upset after Department of Natural Resources crews removed one of two public access points to a beach at Joggins.

Workers from the province arrived at the beach adjacent to the Joggins Fossil Centre early Tuesday to begin removing steps that ran from the beach to the Hardscrabble Road.

“There’s no need of it. I’ve been taking my grandchildren down to the beach through there almost every day. It’s not fair what they’re doing,” said neighbour Jeanie Burbine, who said she had to climb up the bank on Tuesday to get back from the beach. “It almost seems as though they’re trying to force everyone through the fossil centre.”

Al Mills, whose property on the Hardscrabble Road overlooks the former staircase and the beach, said he’s angry at the decision to remove the stairs and is equally upset there was no warning they were being taken out.

“People like to use the stairs to go to beach to go fishing,” he said. “It was good access to the beach and now it’s gone.”

Mills said removing the stairs also creates a safety hazard should there be an emergency on the beach closer to the Hardscrabble Road than to the fossil centre, located about 200 yards up the beach.

Coun. John Reid understands the frustration because he’s been receiving numerous calls about it. He said the decision is related to the beach access being located on land that’s privately owned. It’s also a budget decision, he added.

“DNR pays a significant amount of money in rent, insurance and maintenance costs,” Reid said. “It’s also my understanding that the landowner was not interested in renewing the lease. The lease has just expired so they’ve decided to remove the stairs.”

Bruce Nunn from Natural Resources said the removal of the stairs at Bell’s Brook is related to the expiration of the lease for the steps.

“The steps are no longer needed. The fossil centre has told us they’re not needed because of the construction of the new steps that are only about 200 metres away,” Nunn said. “There is no charge to use the centre stairs that are always open and never gated. Beach access is not being restricted.”