Summary of Feedback from Kejimkujik Seaside       

               Stakeholder Meeting and Public Drop-In Session

                          July 31 2019 Coastal Queens Place, Port Mouton, NS



A half-day meeting (9am-12noon) was held with 11 representatives from various organizations and groups with an interest in Kejimkujik Seaside. There was interest expressed by the participants in receiving a summary of this meeting. (see Appendix A for a list of attendees)

In the afternoon (1-3pm), members of the public were invited to drop in and discuss with park staff their interests, ideas and concerns for the future of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, particularly for Kejimkujik Seaside. About 15 people attended and contributed their ideas for a vision for Kejimkujik Seaside, and their thoughts about visitor experience opportunities, site development/facilities, ecosystem health and opportunities for collaboration and partnership.

Note that several people voiced that they felt there was not enough notice given for this meeting, and that better use of radio, newspaper and flyers would have gotten the word out in a timelier and more effective fashion. (Note: Subsequently Parks Canada followed up with a presentation and discussion at the Port Joli Community Association AGM in August 2019.)


Meeting participants and attendees to the public drop in were invited to share their thoughts on a vision for Kejimkujik Seaside for the next 15-20 years.

Morning session

Kejimkujik Seaside should continue to strive for a greater level of ecological protection. More information about species at risk should be provided, particularly about Piping Plover; the ecological focus seems to be on invasive Green crabs. Port Mouton Island is ecologically important and it would ideally become part of the Seaside property (Note: the property had been considered but was not selected when the Seaside portion was originally designated as part of the national park. Someone also observed that a Nature Conservancy of Canada designation might be more appropriate, with its greater latitude for activities such as hunting). Research activities that require roads or trails or alteration of the landscape should be curtailed within Kejimkujik Seaside.

Managers of Kejimkujik Seaside should strive to collaborate more with other protected area managers in the region, working toward a shared, collective vision (similar to the model of a US National Seashore)

Kejimkujik Seaside should be distinguished from Kejimkujik Inland. It was observed that Kejimkujik Seaside is like Cinderella, or the poor cousin, to Kejimkujik Inland, and that these two parts of the park are very different from each other. A desire was expressed for Seaside to be its own site, with a focus on conservation not on visitors. It was felt that the sites are too dissimilar to be managed by a single entity, and Seaside needs a distinct

1identity with its own name (e.g. “Cadden Bay” or “Port Mouton Adjunct”), and

management team.Kejimkujik Seaside should have staff present, to provide information and interpretation

and compliance. There should be more interpretation offered generally at the Seaside,

particularly there should be a greater focus on the human (cultural) history. Kejimkujik Seaside should forge greater connections with adjacent communities (and

with other heritage features, parks), and particularly consider physical/transportation

connections via the water.Kejimkujik Seaside should explore and promote economic opportunities for local

communities and businesses to provide services (e.g. zodiac from Thomas Raddall

Provincial Park, kayakers in Port Mouton Bay).The primary access to Kejimkujik Seaside, Saint Catherine’s River Road, is in poor

condition and needs to be improved (Note that this is provincial jurisdiction).There should be a Port Mouton access to Kejimkujik Seaside - it would be easier to

access the park from Port Mouton or Farm Hill. Previous access via a bridge from Port Mouton ceased when the bridge was damaged and removed, although this led to ecological benefits (e.g. increased area of eel grass).

Some felt that site accessibility (in terms of physical mobility) should be improved for people who are not able to hike, but others felt that an accessible beach/coastal access could be better delivered at other locations.

The Port Joli Community Hall is well situated to serve as an information and orientation centre for Kejimkujik Seaside, as well as for other tourism sites (Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, various beaches). It exists already with necessary infrastructure largely in place, although parking is limited. This partnership opportunity should be explored.

Public drop-in

There was strong support for protecting the ecosystems of Kejimkujik Seaside, and a desire to keep it wild, keep it natural, to maintain the natural environment, protect ecosystems while allowing for remote visitor experiences. There were some who wished to restrict hiking trails, camping and infrastructure; camping opportunities are available elsewhere (Thomas Raddall Provincial Park, Hunts Point), and camping may pose a fire hazard.

There was strong support for a staff presence at Kejimkujik Seaside, to provide information but also to ensure that park rules are enforced. Compliance concerns were raised with respect to dogs off-leash, illegal camping and garbage.

Kejimkujik Seaside should forge greater connections with the local communities regarding services and roads.

Key topics:

Four key topics have framed discussions throughout the Let’s Talk Kejimkujik! management plan consultation. The following feedback was heard under each of these topics:

Visitor Experience

Morning meeting

The need for on-site staff was reiterated: to welcome visitors, to provide information and to provide interpretation. Roving interpreters and staff closer to the beach would be

welcome. It is important for visitors to understand where they’re visiting, and their

responsibilities as visitors.There needs to be better wayfinding/signage; this is particularly true to direct people to

camping opportunities.Port Joli Community Hall is well-positioned as a hub for park interpretation/information

for Kejimkujik Seaside and other parks and sites in the region.Use of technologies to provide information and interpretation should be explored. For

example, people would like to be able to see what trail webcams capture, or to see historic landscape scale changes via aerial photos. Provincial parks use QR codes that enable visitors to access information via their mobile devices; while this technology may be becoming outdated, mobile apps could serve a similar purpose and are more flexible and interactive.

More effort should be made to connect youth and children with nature and to the park, through interactive, participatory experiences which will increase their feelings of connection and support. Children respond best to tangible experiences. (Note: Parks Canada used to do school programming, but this ceased with budget cuts in 2012.)

Public drop-in

Participants at the public drop-in echoed the strong interest in having a staff presence at Kejimkujik Seaside as was heard in the morning meeting (8 comments from the afternoon session referred to or supported references to the need for staff). The reasons included public safety, information and answering questions, and offering interpretation and guided experiences (hikes, culinary programs). Concerns about compliance were raised with respect to dogs off-leash, illegal camping, and garbage dumping. Someone noted that occasional guided hikes would be supported, “as long as the staff is visible and available to answer questions if necessary, I think that’s great.” Someone felt that there should be more promotion of the “perfect picnic” program.

Many participants echoed the sentiment that Kejimkujik Seaside should remain an experience with limited infrastructure or development, although some supported greater accessibility to enable people of different abilities to get to the beach (one person noted they’d had challenges with a school group where a student had mobility issues).

Someone noted an interest in opening the entrance from SW Port Mouton, but felt that it should be promoted as a “remote experience.”

There was interest expressed in better wayfinding and signage, particularly to clarify that camping does not occur in Kejimkujik Seaside.

Participants felt that there should be some educational opportunities relating to the importance of protecting these natural places; there’s much scope and space for developing such opportunities within the park. Someone observed that knowing more about why areas are managed the way they are would help with visitors’ understanding of the park.

Infrastructure and facilities

Morning meeting

Many voiced dismay at the poor state of Saint Catherine’s River Road, feeling it is an embarrassment and dangerous, with erratic driving to avoid potholes. (Note that this is provincial jurisdiction).

It was observed that the region is generally underserviced in terms of gas, food and lodgings, and this impacts park visitors. However, concessionaires could play a role in filling this service gap (e.g. food trucks); some were surprised that concessionaires might be allowed in the park.

Some were comfortable with the idea of roofed accommodations, if they were temporary, and located near the existing parking lot (although participants were skeptical that the views/experiences available there would be of interest to people). However, others were not in favour of roofed accommodations at all, and prefer that Kejimkujik Seaside remain a place dedicated to conservation.

.Some expressed an interest in seeing Kejimkujik Seaside being more accessible to persons with mobility challenges. However, others felt that accessible beach access might be easier and better offered at other locations than at Kejimkujik Seaside.

Public drop-in

The poor state of the Saint Catherine’s River Road was mentioned as well by many in the afternoon session.

Several people expressed that they would like to see things remain as they are at Kejimkujik Seaside, where the natural beauty is protected and where people may have a remote, backcountry experience. Someone observed that Kejimkujik Seaside is perfect so long as people have the right expectations; some who come by chance risk coming unprepared. An important consideration for whatever infrastructure might be put in place is to maintain the natural state of Kejimkujik Seaside as much as possible.

Some felt there should be no camping or overnight infrastructure of any kind, and no more infrastructure or facilities such as trails, roads and lights. Some felt that camping is a safety and fire concern, given how distant the site is from emergency response. However, others felt it would be nice to have some overnight options at Kejimkujik Seaside, such as rustic cabins or yurts.

There was agreement to the morning’s observation that the region is generally underserviced (gas, food, lodgings), and there was support for the idea of mobile concessions such as a food truck that packs up at end of day.

Someone expressed that they felt that certain promises had been made but not fulfilled by previous park managers, especially in relation to resourcing for the park and for partnership development with local organizations, communities, and businesses.

Ecological Health

Morning meeting

It was felt that the coastal ecosystem as an interconnected whole needs more attention, in coordination with other land managers and conservation interests.

It was observed that while “two-eyed seeing” (i.e. western scientific knowledge and Indigenous understanding) should be applied to park management, local knowledge should be tapped into and applied as well.

Kejimkujik Seaside should become a model of transparency in the sharing of scientific information. Publically-funded science is not always available or accessible. If there are constraints on Parks Canada from making information available, the Agency should investigate collaborations with other parties to ensure information gets into the public domain, particularly through peer-reviewed, published articles.

There was a feeling that resources for scientific research and monitoring are too divided, and that a greater priority is placed on research and monitoring at Kejimkujik Inland than at Kejimkujik Seaside.

Research collaborations were identified as a need; there are untapped opportunities for greater partnerships with existing institutions (e.g. black bear study would be a good example of a research gap). Parks Canada is open to collaborations, would like to know of prospective collaborators. Meeting attendees expressed interest in learning more about the Kespukwitk Conservation Collaborative.

In response to a question about the carrying capacity of the park, participants were advised that Parks Canada undertakes evidence-based monitoring of key ecosystem components and that currently there is no indication that visitation negatively impacts Kejimkujik Seaside ecosystems. If this were to become a problem, Parks Canada has models for managing visitation in other high traffic parks (e.g. West Coast Trail in Pacific Rim NP, Nahanni River in Nahanni NP Reserve) to ensure both visitor experience and to minimize impacts on the ecosystems.

Public drop-in

There was support expressed for protecting Kejimkujik Seaside ecosystems, which would entail dedicated scientific staff.

Someone suggested there should be more citizen engagement/involvement (e.g. citizen science, bioblitzes, social media engagement).

There should be greater opportunities for partnerships with schools, to get kids involved.

Collaboration and Partnerships

Morning meeting

Parks Canada should work more collaboratively and complementarily with Thomas Raddall Provincial Park.

Other entities/organizations already in the Port Joli area are working on coastal conservation and protection, doing similar work to that undertaken by Parks Canada at Kejimkujik Seaside; there should be a pooling of resources and expertise, and greater collaboration.

Public Drop-in

Participants suggested greater collaboration in the area of ecosystem conservation. Several had suggestions for collaborations to improve visitor orientation and visitor

experience, including partnering with Thomas Raddall Provincial Park to ensure visitors know it is a camping option, and with the network of local Airbnb owners. As well, Parks Canada should engage key staff at Queens Visitor Information Centre, Liverpool; White Point Beach Resort; NS South Shore Tourism Cooperative; and within Queen’s District.

In response to the idea of making use of the Port Joli Community Hall for information and interpretation, responses were both positive (“Nice idea that would benefit many!!” “Absolutely, yes”) as well as cautionary (“It’s hard to get in and out of there!”).

While someone suggested the need for partnerships and collaboration for education and promotion, someone felt that more promotion should not occur due to the current state of the road.

New Topic: Cultural Significance

Morning meeting

The cultural significance of the coastal area to the Mi’kmaq is not well understood yet. The designation of Kejimkujik Inland was due to strong Mi’kmaw interest; there appears to be less interest in the coastal area. Parks Canada and others might work together to highlight to the Mi’kmaq the cultural significance of the coast, to draw attention to the area and to facilitate greater research, as well as to focus on the strong local history of the area.

Appendix A: Morning Meeting Attendees

Port Joli Community Association

Danielle Robertson

Friends of Port Mouton Bay

Ron Loucks Ruth Smith Jan Pottie Tom Sherman

Coastal Queens Place

Lucy Burgess Maria Boyd

Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre

Dirk Van Loon Shauna Doll

NS Lands and Forests, Area Manager for Queen’s/Shelburne (Carter’s Beach)

Jim Rudderham

Region of Queens Municipality

Kevin Muise, Councillor District 1

Parks Canada, Mainland Nova Scotia Field Unit

Jonathan Sheppard, Superintendent, Kejimkujik Kim Stephenson, Visitor Services Officer Gabrielle Beaulieu, Project Coordinator, Kejimkujik Seaside Soonya Quon, Senior Planner


Emma Polsuns, Friends of Port Mouton Bay Doug van Hemessen, Nature Conservancy of Canada Matt Delong, Candlebox Kayaking Darlene Norman, White Point Beach Resort Laura Bartlett, Bird Studies Canada Cathy Williams, West Queens Recreation Association Donna Denison, Port Joli Community Association Audrey-Lynn Lethbridge, The Quarterdeck