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Improvements on the way for neglected Lawrencetown Beach

Nova Scotia plans to redevelop the popular Eastern Shore surfing beach

4 min read
Lawrencetown Beach's building.
caption The old building at Lawrencetown Beach is where the current toilets and change rooms are. This building will be demolished when the surfer's beach area is constructed.
Chris Stoodley

The provincial government is preparing to redevelop the infrastructure at popular Lawrencetown Beach.

On Jan. 8, the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry posted a request for quote (RFQ) looking for bidders to take on the multi-phase project. The RFQ calls for the demolition of the current infrastructure, a realignment to the Atlantic View Trail, and to the park entrance. It also calls for the construction of a new surfer’s beach area — a raised wooden platform with a new toilet, septic tank and three change rooms.

Nico Manos, the owner of East Coast Surf School, is excited about the redevelopment. He says thousands of people surf at Lawrencetown Beach each year, and they’ve been waiting a while for new facilities.

“We don’t need stadiums, we don’t need playing fields, we don’t need heated spaces, we don’t need any of that stuff,” Manos says. “It’s pretty easy. We need a place to park and a shower and that’s about it. So, it’s nice that that’s finally coming together.”

Lawrencetown Beach in the winter.
caption Lawrencetown Beach during the winter.
Chris Stoodley

In 2017, the government developed a plan that identified the beach’s infrastructure was aging and had to be replaced. Clinton Pinks, a landscape architect and senior planner with the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry, anticipates the project will take several years to complete. But after about two years of planning, they’re excited to begin the first phase.

“I want Lawrencetown to be the destination that you want to take your visitors, out of town guests or friends to hang out and see all the potential of what provincial parks and our coastal beaches have to offer,” Pinks says.

Currently, Lawrencetown Beach has one building with toilets and showers. Pinks says the next phases of the project will take place in the off-season after the summer. The winning bidder will tear down the old building and construct the new surfer’s beach area.

Pinks says the current building is operational during the summer, but there’s no set schedule for when it’s open. While the government operates the building, Manos says things could be better.

The Lifesaving Society of Nova Scotia last published a Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service Annual Report online in 2016. It reports that over 18,000 people were estimated to have visited Lawrencetown Beach that year.

Manos gets many of these visitors at East Coast Surf School, but most of them aren’t Nova Scotians. Instead, it’s tourists visiting for a conference, for a meeting or on a vacation who want to take a beginning or end-of-trip surfing lesson.

“The fact that these people can take a shower at the end of their lesson is huge,” Manos says.

“The last thing they want to hear is that there’s actually no running water in the building and you have to sit salty and sandy for the next five hours until you check into your hotel in Cape Breton tonight.”

Still, East Coast Surf School manages to keep a five-star rating on Google Reviews, Facebook and TripAdvisor.

Manos says his customers understand the facilities aren’t part of his business and rate the school based on its services, equipment and lessons.

“They don’t often say something but you can tell they’re bummed that they can’t take a shower or that the building is locked,” he says.

Once the redevelopment is completed, Manos hopes the operating hours will be longer and more regular, not only for his customers but also for the general public.

“We’re pumped to hopefully provide an experience that our tourism sectors are advertising.”

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About the author

Chris Stoodley

Chris is a fourth-year student at the University of King's College. He's a big fan of all things visual and loves to keep up with the world of...

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