We are writing as the shocked next door neighbours of the announced high-density RV park and campground planned for the quiet and quaint oceanside neighbourhood of Point Cross. Suffice to say that my wife Renee and I, our children, and grandchildren are devastated at the thought of this pristine piece of the Cabot Trail being bulldozed over and turned into a parking lot for RVs and campsites. Despite multiple attempts to connect with the developers with our concerns, they have chosen to remain silent. We can’t say if it is disdain for the concerns of their neighbours, or some other reason, but if this is a preview of how these gentlemen plan on integrating into the town, it sure is bothersome. So, I thought I’d share some information and thoughts which we have accumulated over the past few weeks.
– Size: The last word we received from a reporter is that the developers are planning to have 118 RV sites and some 40 campsites. That is 158 sites on about nine acres. If we figure just three people per site, that’s a potential, at full occupancy, for as many as 474 people there at any given time. That’s equivalent to one-seventh of the population of all of Cheticamp staying right next door. Try to imagine the commotion generated by this number of people – even half that number of people.
– Traffic and disruption: Think about the daily activity around that many vehicles pulling in and out of the campground onto a dangerous stretch of the Cabot Trail. One wonders about the potential for traffic delays and accidents.
– Noise and loss of peaceful enjoyment: For those of us close to the campground (our property runs along the southern border of their site) the constant noise from vehicles in and out of the site and the sounds of the RVs maneuvering in tight quarters – beep, beep, beep – will be horrible. With bedroom windows within feet of the service road and entrance, my family will be impacted each and every day.
– Trash and septic: Again, think of the amount of both trash and septic output that nearly 500 people could generate each day. We’ve heard that they plan to have holding tanks for wastewater and also heard they plan on not allowing RVs to pump out their systems there. So that begs the question, where will the RVs dump their waste?
– Our safety and security: While we don’t wish to sound judgmental, who could possibly feel safe having nearly 500 strangers next door and from who knows where? It will be high time for everyone to lock your homes, cars, and garages. Don’t leave that ATV in your driveway. As for my family, we will need to keep our grandchildren from walking alone on our own property – we don’t know who is watching and what their motives might be. One also wonders how COVID could be controlled in such a setting?
– Fairness: Is it fair to nearby homeowners who have been stakeholders in Cheticamp for many years or even decades to one day have 158 RV and campsites thrust upon them, with no voice whatsoever? To destroy their peace and enjoyment and trash the value of their homes and properties? Any socially responsible business will always make the effort to communicate with those around them who will be impacted by their development and hopefully take the position of “first do no harm.”
– The tourist experience: The currency of tourism is, and always will be, reviews. The experiences that travellers share with others reflects not only the natural beauty of their experience, but where they stayed, where they enjoyed the food and cultural offerings (I think of the music!). What will their reviews of this campground be? Yes, a beautiful spot along the coast. But the density of the RV and campsite pads on the piece of property will, perhaps, leave many wondering if the experience was worth the crowding.
And imagine the reviews when a suete rolls across that space – the windiest spot in Nova Scotia, maybe all of Canada. They will tell about losing their tents, camp chairs and everything else, or finding their RVs on their side and possibly even being injured. For sure, there will be plenty of trash blowing around, everywhere. And the risk of a campfire getting out of control is very real.
Regulation and planning are needed – We agree that campgrounds are an integral part of, and an attraction for, tourism. However, there should be thoughtful planning by the municipal council as to where such facilities should be located. As a community, have you asked yourselves how many RV/campgrounds should be in the Cheticamp area? Right now, they seem to be popping up everywhere. The community should demand a voice on how many and where they can be located. That planning should include the voice of the community and along with the town planners should navigate the tricky waters of development, tourism and the protection of the island’s natural beauty. Does it make good sense that these developments should destroy the very thing that tourists come to Cape Breton for: the absolute gem of coastline?
– Your legacy: We don’t wish this on some other neighbourhood, believe me. This is where I implore all of you to become involved in being heard regarding the zoning and bylaws that protect the legacy of land and sea that is yours, for your children and grandchildren, for generations to come. Believe me, I’ve seen what happens to the natural beauty of an area when nobody is watching, or caring – it can never come back. The zoning doesn’t reflect the value of the jewel of Cape Breton, the coastline. In my opinion, the coastline and cultural landmarks should be protected with great care.
– What can you do? I believe there is a groundswell to change this, and I implore you to help. Please get involved before it’s too late. Please take time to be heard. Contact your councillor and MLA representative.
– Do our thoughts count? As a U.S. citizen, some may ask what value I have to express my concerns and cares. One obvious answer is that Renee and I have invested our savings in the little yellow house by the sea, as our retirement home. The campground, by everyone’s estimation, not only destroys our right to enjoy the peace and tranquility we invested in, but it literally destroys the value of the property. This seems rather heartless that a business can take away so easily what you’ve worked your whole life for.
Having the privilege of owning a home at Point Cross and holding dear the relationships that we’ve made with many of you is really a huge part of my and my family’s lives. We are “super tourists,” if you will. We joyfully make the 14-hour ride from the States multiple times each year to refresh our spirits, reacquaint with our friends and soak in the hospitality of Cape Breton. We consider ourselves ambassadors, living “reviews” of this most special place.
Renee and John Fabrizio