Historic Georges Island receives funding to improve access, create tourism opportunities

Click to play video: 'Major infrastructure announced to open Georges Island for all to explore' Major infrastructure announced to open Georges Island for all to explore
WATCH: Georges Island is a historic site, but other than a few special events, it has been off limits to the public. As Jesse Thomas reports, there a now plans to open the island to the public – Aug 9, 2019

For a long time, Georges Island has been one of those forbidden-island scenarios which you could always see but never touch.

The iconic island and National Historic site had long been off-limits to the public, but that’s all going to change in July 2020.

READ MORE: No cleanup for Georges Island a year after Parks Canada spent $67K to spruce up attraction

On Friday afternoon, a $3.67 million infrastructure investment was announced aimed at opening the island to the public and to create greater tourism opportunities.

“You heard, I think from Parks Canada that they have had various plans to get it going for twenty years or more,” said Halifax MP Andy Fillmore. “But it was the federal investments that have been able to turn that into a reality now.”

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That includes a $2.07 million joint investment between the federal government and Develop Nova Scotia that will see a 150 by 20 feet timbre pile wharf constructed with floating docks attached to allow boats, water taxis, and other vessels to dock.

Parks Canada with funding through the federal government will invest another $1.6 million to improve accessibility and trails throughout the historic site, which will include signs and educational material to be installed, along with tour guides on site.

“We’re going to develop visitor facilities, we’re going to improve pathways and undertake vegetation control and we’re also going to ensure that our visiting areas are safe and stable,” said Eric Nielsen with Parks Canada. “The buildings are in declining conditions and so we intend to ensure the buildings are safe for visitors to go.”

READ MORE: ‘Historic’ Halifax seawall being redeveloped as municipality seeks to reduce impact of climate change

The Halifax waterfront is the most visited destination in Nova Scotia and welcomes millions of visitors each year and its crown islands have been a focal point.

Jennifer Angel, president, and CEO with Develop Nova Scotia said this is an opportunity to enhance on the already natural features that make Halifax a unique destination.

“We have a really compelling natural advantage in our place by the sea in Nova Scotia,” said Angel. “And our work is about leveraging that natural advantage and building compelling places for people– places that capture peoples imagination and cause them to want to be here.”

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The tentative date to open Georges Island to visitors is July 15th, during peak tourism season.

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