McNabs Island beach shifting: coastal engineer

Click to play video: 'Halifax Harbour’s McNab Island being reshaped by nature'
Halifax Harbour’s McNab Island being reshaped by nature
Halifax McNab's Island is being reshaped by nature. The province needs to find a way to protect beach. Steve Silva reports – Apr 7, 2016

A Halifax coastal engineer says both the deterioration of the McNabs Island breakwater and rising sea levels will result in higher waves in McNabs Cove and, subsequently, shift Maugers Beach.

“The sand moves in the direction the waves are coming so where you have big waves, they move the sand along, and the sand finds an area that’s protected to settle,” said Vincent Leys, who works for CBCL Limited.

The firm produced “Halifax Harbour Wave Agitation Risk Study at Maughers Beach Breakwater, McNabs Island” (below) for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in 2014.

The reshaping of the island is the topic of the Friends of McNabs Island Society‘s annual general meeting next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

READ MORE: McNabs Island renovations make getting to park, exploration easier

“McNabs seems to us to be changing. Every time we go over there it looks a little different,” said Cathy McCarthy, president of the group.

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Leys said he wasn’t sure how much the beach would shift, but the fear is it will move further away and be limited in terms of accessibility.

The study was done for DFO to understand the impacts of the breakwater (and its decreasing presence) on the area.

Connected to the Maugers Beach Lighthouse, the breakwater was significantly damaged by Hurricane Juan in September 2003.

The study determined that replacing or fixing the breakwater was not necessary for the DFO’s purposes.

However, the cove, including Garrison Pier will be further affected by the waves.

Garrison Road on McNabs Island is hard to walk on, according to Cathy McCarthy. Steve Silva / Global News

Garrison Road, the main path on the island, is also a problem because erosion has made it rocky, according to McCarthy.

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“How are people going to access it? How are we going to protect the beach? What are we going to do about getting access to the lighthouse or do we just let nature take its course?” she said.

“The province needs to take a look at that and figure out how they’re going to protect these historical resources.”

In an emailed statement to Global News, the Department of Natural Resources said it’s “aware of coastal erosion’s effects in the province and continues to monitor the issue.

It is good the Friends of McNabs Island Society is adding further scientific assessment to the issue and we look forward to the Friends’ annual general meeting next week where important matters related to McNabs and Lawlors Islands Provincial Park will be reviewed.”

A follow-up question (also emailed) about whether the department would actually attend the meeting went unanswered.

Read the report below:


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