Peggy’s Cove Infrastructure Improvement Strategy


Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia


Community of Peggy's Cove, ACOA, Tourism Nova Scotia, Department of Public Works


Media Inquiries:


Peggy’s Cove Questions & Answers

What studies were completed to inform this project and your decisions?

As part of the planning and design process, several studies have been completed for all projects at Peggy’s Cove. Many of these studies were posted as part of the public tendering process. They include:

  • Wetland delineation
  • Coastal study
  • LiDAR data collection
  • Archaeology
  • Geotechnical
  • Traffic Data Collection
Where can the public view reports on environmental assessment?

The viewing deck portion of the project did not trigger an environmental assessment because it was constructed on an existing roadway. However, we did engage an environmental firm to look for sensitive areas—primarily wetlands—that needed to be considered where we were working throughout Peggy’s Cove. The viewing deck did not show as a sensitive area. MacCallum Environmental was contracted for this work and they produced a report on the two wetlands they did identify in the Cove. Required permits were issued by Nova Scotia Environment for the work that took place in those two areas.

To view the map identifying wetland areas, click here. To view the Wetland Alteration Application, click here.

We hear there was community backlash with regard to a proposed parking lot–is that going ahead?

At an earlier stage of the planning process an additional surface parking lot was proposed. Concerns over the location and the impact on the landscape were raised by the community. Collectively with community members, we developed alternative ideas to manage vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The proposed parking lot has not been advances at this time and, instead, we will work with community to approach interventions for traffic management in an incremental and informed way.

In the first phase of work, we expanded the existing parking lot to add 153 new parking spaces, including 4 accessible spots. We are also installing a parking inventory system to help track usage. This will improve existing traffic information and inform additional management strategies to address future parking demand. We will continue to work closely with the community as this longer-term work unfolds.

Did you think about the impact of sea level rise and climate change in this work?

Climate change, sea level rise, and storm surges were identified as an increasing risk to Peggy’s Cove. The raising of the road and the reconstruction of the breakwater are measures to mitigate the impacts of climate change. A coastal study, including storm modeling and LiDAR data, helped to formulate the solutions and designs.

Details of the Viewing Deck

What does the Viewing Deck include?

The viewing deck is a public space where people can view the lighthouse and experience the waves and rocks in a way that is fully accessible and provides a safer and accessible viewing option for all. Other related improvements include public washrooms and improvements to trail connections that lead to the lighthouse and nearby parking area.

Aerial view of viewing deck on opening day
An aerial view of the viewing deck on opening day

An aerial view outlining details of the viewing deck and site (pre-construction)


How big is the viewing deck?

The deck is around 14,000 square feet. 12,000 of those 14,000 square feet were reclaimed from an old roadway. The remaining 2,000 square feet does extend over the landscape, and it was carefully designed to blend with the landscape and avoid intruding on the coastline. Rest assured that it does not overshadow the lighthouse or disturb the iconic views we all know and love—rather, it provides a safer, more accessible vantage point for everyone.

How does the Viewing Deck address safety?

The viewing deck provides a safer and more accessible option for viewing the water, waves, natural landscape, and lighthouse for those who need or prefer it. The purpose of the small piece that extends towards the lighthouse and coastline (about 2,000 square feet in size) is to bring people to a point where they can experience the ocean and the rocks together without disrupting the iconic views we all know and love.

The viewing deck can also be closed to the public during unsafe conditions, providing an additional signal to stay off the rocks.

The design was informed by a detailed coastal study and design with data and regular rogue wave distances in mind to mitigate risks associated with the ocean’s unpredictability.

What about the ongoing problem of safety on the rocks?

Alongside updated signage, safety staff are on site during peak times to provide a means of direct communication and action for visitor safety, harm prevention, and any immediate safety issues on the public lands and infrastructure in Peggy’s Cove. Visitors can also learn more on how to be safe at Peggy’s Cove at, and by viewing the safety video presented to visitors.

The viewing deck also provides a safer viewing option for visitors. They will be encouraged to use it and alerted through its closure and signage if there are safety issues associated with weather and wave action. These should serve as added deterrents to venturing onto slippery black rocks or ignoring weather warnings.

How does the viewing deck address accessibility?

The viewing deck creates an accessible way to experience Peggy’s Cove and, in turn, an opportunity for everyone to enjoy this special place. The small portion of the deck that extends out from the roadway (about 14 meters) provides a view and experience of the lighthouse, rocks, and waves from a single, accessible location—making it a truly inclusive experience. At the Viewing Deck is a fully accessible washroom, featuring large rooms with adult changing tables.

Peggy’s Cove has achieved a Gold rating from the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility (RHFAC) program—a national rating system measuring meaningful access to buildings and places. This acknowledgement made Peggy’s Cove the first tourism site in Atlantic Canada to receive Gold certification from RHFAC.

Peggy’s Cove has been featured by AMI: Accessible Media Inc. to outline accessibility work in the village:


Community Engagement

Did you do engagement? What did it entail?

Yes. Build Nova Scotia’s work always focuses most heavily on those who call a community home. However, we engaged further to include tourism operators, businesses and residents in Peggy’s Cove and surrounding areas, tourism stakeholders, the Mi’kmaq community, and first responders.

We also set up an open design studio in the community for a week in February 2019 (called Peggy’s Cove Design Week). With an open-door format, we welcomed members of the general public as well as residents, business owners, and operators to drop in and talk to the architects, planners, and engineers about the issues and ideas that mattered to them. Build Nova Scotia also ran an online survey that was open to the public and shared through our digital channels.

The engagement continued past the planning stage. We created a Project Working Group composed of residents, the Peggy’s Cove Commission, design consultants, and other government agencies. Over two years, we held 12 formal meetings with the community and many, many informal meetings with the community, businesses, tourism stakeholders and general public.

Designs were also brought back to the whole community at various design stages in regular community update meetings to address any construction issues and answer questions.

As we move to a focus on operating the provincially-owned infrastructure in Peggy’s Cove, we continue to engage with community and ensure there are continued avenues for their feedback, issues, and ideas. Build Nova Scotia will host a minimum of 3 formal meetings per year to brings community and partners together to discuss operations, safety, communications, events, and any additional planning work to come. We also continue to host community drop-ins and 1-on-1 meetings as needed.

Did your efforts include engagement with First Nations?

Yes, with direction and guidance from the provincial Office of Aboriginal Affairs (OAA), appropriate notification regarding First Nations consultation was provided.

Members of the Mi’kmaq community expressed concerns about this work in January 2021—what have you done to address this and engage with this community?

We are aware of the importance of the area and we have had ongoing consultation with the Mi’kmaw community concerned the deck might interfere with a site of their sacred sweetgrass. We verified that the Viewing Deck does not impact any sweetgrass and we engaged with Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and a botanist to be doubly sure that no other sweetgrass areas are impacted by any of our work.

We are aware of the importance of the area and we have had ongoing consultation with the Mi’kmaq community. This feedback caused us to pause and double check our plans.

We consulted with KMKNO (Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office) through the prescribed process and Build Nova Scotia is working to address any issues raised and also to explore opportunities related to archeology, sweetgrass, tourism, and site interpretation. It is critical to us that this project respects the land and people who care for it and we continue to engage the Mi’kmaq community to tell their story of the significance of Peggy’s Cove and their long history on this land.

We also undertook a more detailed archeological assessment for the viewing deck project and to update our original study to account for changes to the areas of work. The completed assessment report was submitted to Communities, Culture and Heritage, and we’ll be sharing the results with KMKNO to ensure the recommendations associated with that report are followed.

Have you continued to engage with Indigenous communities in this work?

Yes, continued engagement and feedback from the Mi’kmaw community has been a part of our work in Peggy’s Cove. This has included developing informational signage in the Cove that includes the Mi’kmaw language. We continue to work with community to plan for Mi’kmaw-led events and programming in Peggy’s Cove in 2023 and explore additional opportunities for collaboration.

Maintenance of the Viewing Deck

Who will manage and maintain the infrastructure?

The viewing deck and other infrastructure will be managed and maintained by the province. For the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Build Nova Scotia has been tasked with operating and maintaining the new provincial properties in Peggy’s Cove. For more information, click here.

Will the painting/maintenance of the lighthouse be included?

The community identified maintenance of the lighthouse as needing to be addressed. We believe the investment in infrastructure and improvements in Peggy’s Cove present an opportunity for to find a longer-term solution to manage the lighthouse.

The current phase of work in Peggy’s Cove provided an opportunity to freshen up the lighthouse ahead of the viewing deck opening. Thanks to TIANS and the International Union of Allied Painters and Allied Trades, the lighthouse painting effort was completed in September 2021. For more information on this effort, click here.