Once again, the unspoiled beauty of a South Shore coastal area is under attack from private landowners who are progressing with the development of an RV park on six acres of private land adjacent to Cherry Hill Beach, despite widespread opposition from local residents and supporters of the beach.
Cherry Hill Beach, which is located down a small lane off the Lighthouse route and SE of Bridgewater, is widely known for its stunning, pristine beauty. Residents and users of the beach believe this is about to change as property owners plan the installation of a private seasonal trailer park just up from the beach.
In just three weeks, nearly 3,000 members of the public from all over Canada and the USA have shown their unanimous support for the local residents by signing an online petition that opposes the commercial RV development.
Even before news broke of the proposed development, which will be sandwiched on three sides between existing private homes, there had been complaints that Henry Conrad Rd could not continue to sustain the already increased amount of traffic using the access road as a result of the beach being “discovered” during Covid, and which has little parking and no provision of facilities, including garbage bins or washrooms.
“We understand it’s private land and not subject to any zoning restrictions,” says Steve Howe, whose property borders the owners' land. “But it’s incredulous that you can be fined for walking your dog off leash on this vast empty beach, and yet there’s no permits or planning permission needed to develop a commercial RV park in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. Not only will it be a complete eyesore at this unspoilt location, but its not wanted,” says Howe.
Others believe that if the area is to see any development, it should be in the form of developing an infrastructure.
In correspondence with a local consortium of residents, one of the property owners has made it clear that he and his wife purchased the property “to develop,” and his expectations are that all those involved should understand and agree with his sentiments regarding his family’s future needs. The development of an RV park is a “good choice” for his family “and neighbours” says the owner who does not agree it will bring any increase to traffic on the road.
Neighbours and users of the beach strongly disagree with the owners, however. Locals believe this should not come at the cost of ruining the beauty of the area or trump existing sentiments of the community who live there.
In a desperate attempt to halt the owners’ plans for a commercial enterprise in this residential area, a consortium comprised of neighbouring properties approached the owners with an offer to purchase the property. This offer was rejected.
One local member of the community voiced her frustrations that “yet again, non-residents fail to understand and take into account that their personal expectations and desires to exploit an area of natural beauty should not come before that of the community’s desire to continue to maintain the uniqueness of the area for all. It’s arrogant and egotistical and not in keeping with our values,” said the resident. “Until now, the community has been developed respectfully, low key and without ruining the area. Long time and permanent residents have generally coexisted well with seasonal visitors. But we are seeing a new breed of people coming in who just don’t get it!”
Sally Rees, a resident of nearby Vogler’s Cove believes, “We can embrace change and grow. But it should not come at the cost of causing a negative effect on the environment, and with little or no regard to established members of the community who simply wish to live quietly and work towards a common goal of maintaining the natural beauty of this stunningly beach and its surroundings.”
Many believe it’s time the Municipality and Province stepped up to implement a coastal development that engages the community in collaboration and consultation in any development that could potentially have a negative impact. “We’ve seen what unregulated development can do with the invasion of RV parks at Green Bay, and none of us wants that to happen here,” says Howe.