A controversy is brewing in a rugged seaside community in a corner of the Bay of Fundy.

The owner of a 40-hectare property in the middle of Scots Bay, N.S., wants to open a private campground, but she’s facing opposition from neighbours who say the operation will disrupt their way of life, and even their livelihoods.

Julie Skaling grew up in Scots Bay and bought a plot of land from her parents in 2021. It has been in her family for generations.

“It was always a place that anybody in the community could go for different recreational things … so I wanted to embrace that,” she said.

Skaling said she was inspired by her dad, who used to let people camp on the property, free of charge, and her daughter, who has Down syndrome.

“There’s a lot of other people who have physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities and some emotional disabilities … It would be nice to have a space where people would actually be able to create their own campground, be involved in the process of it, or come and camp and feel like it’s a very inclusive and accessible campground.”

Skaling wants to run the campground as a for-profit business, and channel some of the revenues to a social enterprise for people with disabilities.

She believes it’s inevitable that Scots Bay will end up with a campground or some other form of accommodation for tourists because of the draw of its two provincial parks. Scots Bay Provincial Park is home to a rocky beach, and Cape Split Provincial Park boasts hiking trails that lead to unparalleled views of the Bay of Fundy’s renowned tides.

“I’m trying to align myself with what the needs are,” she said.

Community concerns

Lindsay Steele also grew up in Scots Bay on family land, which she now uses for farming chicken and vegetables, and breeding show horses.

She lives right next door to the proposed campground, and is worried about the implications for her businesses.

“We’re very concerned with trespassing into our mare and foal area because it abuts the campground, and people think horses are romantic, and they don’t know, and we would hate to see someone hurt because they’ve wandered into an area that they shouldn’t,” Steele said.

She and others have flagged concerns about excessive campfire smoke, traffic, litter, and infringement on agricultural land.

The proposal is scheduled to go before a public hearing this Thursday, and councillors with the Municipality of Kings County will later vote on whether it can go ahead.

‘A tragedy either way’

“It’s going to be a tragedy either way,” said Steele.

She said if council approves the campground, it would set a precedent “that agriculture and farms don’t matter.”

“But,” Steele said, “I feel like for the developers, they shouldn’t have been put through this either.”

Skaling has been tinkering with her proposal for more than two years and has worked with experts in tourism and land use to help her address the community’s concerns. She said she thinks the concerns can be resolved or mitigated.

Meanwhile, Steele has hired experts of her own to bolster her arguments against the campground. Both sides will have the chance to speak at this week’s hearing.

Source: CBC