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Community furious about fencing put up by Nova Scotia Power

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A trail nestled between the rolling hills along the Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia has been a cherished local treasure for decades, but the community feels it's now under threat.

Nova Scotia Power is installing a 100 ft. fence near the trail and the community is not happy about it.

“I met the supervisor when they put up the sign up saying no trespassing and he assured me that this was not about keeping walkers from walking, it was to protect it from liability of kids jumping off the bridge,” said Carole Doucet, a community member in Gaspereau.

For 50 years, Doucet has been walking this trail. She said it is where she and others in the community get together and catch up.

“Everybody meets here daily. We catch up on the gossip, we enjoy each others company, we get exercise, [and] the dogs have a good time. This has been going on for generations,” she said.

The Gaspereau River is pictured in Nova Scotia. (Hafsa Arif/CTV Atlantic)

Doucet said she is extremely frustrated.

“They’re forcing me to go to town in the winter time and I don’t like being on the road if I don’t have to, so why should I have to go elsewhere to get my exercise? I live in this community. It’s not fair,” she said.

Nova Scotia Power owns the land and a hydro-plant is located at the end of the canal.

“We have to remember this is a work site. We’re seeing a lot of trucks and heavy equipment coming and going, and people coming and going so we need to ensure that the public is safe,” said Jacqueline Foster, spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power.

A worker installs a fence on a trail near the Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia. (Hafsa Arif/CTV Atlantic)

The river is often used to tubing or swimming as well. Foster said there have been injuries reported on the trail and in the water.

“A member of the community who was walking had a medical emergency and our team stepped in to get them back to the main road so they could seek medical attention and with the increased activity, we’re just trying to prevent one of these situations from happening,” she said.

Some people in the community are unhappy with Nova Scotia Power’s lack of communication on its decision to add fencing.

“We thought maybe we’d have some time to talk to them or to consult with them but eight o’clock on Monday the crews arrived and started drilling fence posts to block off the whole thing,” said Julie Harrington.

A barrier on a trail near the Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia. (Hafsa Arif/CTV Atlantic)

On Tuesday night, in a community group, Nova Scotia Power said it will be pausing construction of the fence, but fencing continued throughout the day on Wednesday.

“They said that we would have some consultation opportunities with them but we haven’t heard anything on when that would be,” said Harrington.

Nova Scotia Power placed an advertisement in a local paper informing the community of its intention to limit access to authorized personnel only.

Others in the community say the trail is the safest option.

“Our highways are in bad shape. We have no sidewalks and particularly with an aging population, this is the only place in this community to safely walk,” said Nancy McBay.

A barrier on a trail near the Gaspereau River in Nova Scotia. (Hafsa Arif/CTV Atlantic)

McBay, who lives a few minutes from the trail, would have to drive into town if the trail closed.

“To the Dykes Trail or walk at the gym because it’s not safe to walk here. There are no sidewalks, more traffic, speeding traffic and walks that I used to do in this community I can’t do anymore,” she said.

The Gaspereau Valley has two wineries, which make the roads busy with tourists. That makes walking along the roads even more dangerous.

“I can’t walk on the road. It’s not safe. There’s no guard rail. People drive like crazy and there’s too much traffic,” said Doucet.

Many community members are unhappy with a fence on a trail near the Gaspereau River. (Courtesy: Mark Davidson)

Nova Scotia Power’s original plan to fence off the entire trail has now changed. Instead, it is strictly fencing off the canal.

The power company is planning to hold a meeting next week with the community. Some members of the community are hoping for a positive outcome, but they are not sure they will get it.

“At least I’m heard and they can tell us about this sudden turnaround. They said they were going to pause this but does it look its paused? No. So how can I believe them?” said Doucet.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. 

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