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McNabs and Lawlor Islands

prepared by Nova Scotia Natural Resources and Canadian Heritage, Parks Canada
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Planning Issues for Consideration

This preliminary list of planning issues is meant to encourage reflection on the future uses of the islands. Many of these issues have been previously identified by the public. In addressing these issues, both governments must ensure the solutions are sensitive to the underlying values of the islands' heritage resources and to their characteristic quality of open space that provides contrast and variety to urban landscapes and lifestyles. You may have others to add to the list. Let us know.

Day Use Activities

The nature, scope and location of day use activities needs to be carefully considered in finalizing a land use strategy. Facilities to support the activities need to be sensitively located and compatible with the islands' heritage resources. Examples would include hiking, walking, swimming, picnicking, and heritage appreciation. The primary focus would be on day use activities. Do you concur? What activities do you feel should be provided?


It is recognized that the islands can play a role in supporting the tourism economy in the metropolitan area by offering high quality experiences and facilities emphasizing natural environments, outdoor activities and cultural appreciation. These would provide a contrast to the busy commercial and industrial waterfronts of Halifax and Dartmouth. The focus is based on an eco-tourism or nature tourism approach. What facilities could be provided within this framework?


Public access to the islands would be a major component of the overall visitor experience in future. Docking facilities would be required to ensure safe landings and departures. Ferry service and schedules would need to be established. Ideally, ferry service would be provided from both sides of Halifax Harbour. Landing points are shown at Garrison Pier, Wreck Cove and Lawlor Island. Do you concur? Who should provide the ferry service?

Visitor Service and Interpretation

There is need to provide for appropriate visitor services and for interpretation of the natural and cultural resources to help visitors enjoy their stay. There are different ways to accomplish this. The [preliminary management] concept identifies a scenario whereby most services and facilities would be concentrated in the west central portion of McNabs Island, in proximity to one of the main landing points, Garrison Pier. Services and interpretation facilities would include a visitor services centre providing changerooms, information, food services, washrooms and a main interpretive facility. Maughers Beach is nearby for water related activities and picnic areas would be suitably located. Interpretive trails would begin close to the visitor centre and lead visitors to key natural and cultural resource areas. Do you concur with this approach? Are there other services and facilities that could be a part of the land use strategy? Where should they be located? Who should provide these services and facilities?

Outdoor Education

Outdoor education activities aimed at schools and adult groups would be encouraged. It is felt there would be strong demand for these activities because of the islands' location in the midst of Nova Scotia's largest metropolitan area and because of the rich diversity of heritage resources. Day-long visits could be arranged or, potentially, overnight visits if existing buildings on the northern end of McNabs Island were used for this purpose. Your views on this activity would be appreciated.


Although the suggested focus of the management concept is on day use activities, camping has become more popular on McNabs Island in recent years. There is a need to ensure that any campground is well located away from day use activity areas and managed properly. The land use strategy identifies a potential site at the northern end of McNabs Island. Is this the best location? What services should be provided for campers? Who should provide these facilities and services?

Public Mooring

There is recognition that in future many visitors would come to the islands in their own private boats in addition to those visitors arriving by ferry. Moorage facilities would be required to accommodate small recreational craft and sailboats. Do you agree that this type of facility is needed for boaters? Are the proposed mooring sites in good locations? Who should provide these facilities?

Lawlor Island

Currently there are few facilities and services identified for Lawlor Island in the land use strategy. One reason for this is the presence of heron rookery sites and osprey nesting areas. The protection of habitat that supports these species is important and needs to be considered in any proposals for the island.

Working With Others

Government financial restraint will have an impact on how the islands will be developed and managed in future. Increasingly, both the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Canadian Heritage, Parks Canada are becoming more involved with others in achieving their mandates. The need to cooperate and work with others would lead to the assessment of opportunities for partnerships in achieving common objectives in the areas of cultural and natural resource protection and presentation, the delivery and operation of services and in making the islands a major destination in the metropolitan area. Your ideas and suggestions are welcome.

McNabs and Lawlor Islands
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The tabloid McNabs and Lawlor Islands prepared by the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resouces and Parks Canada of Canadian Heritage in support of their Fall 1995 public consultation process.

This Internet version was prepared with permission by the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists (FNSN) and the Friends of McNabs Island Society (FOMIS).