In 2014, the Friends of McNabs Island Society organized many outreach and stewardship activities that included, guided tours, work parties and beach cleanups. The society also installed interpretive panels in the Garrison Road kiosk to welcome visitors to the island and launched a new website.
The 23rd annual McNabs Island Clean-up was held June 1st. 250 volunteers collected 600 bags of garbage and recyclables from the island beaches. Among the more unusual items found was a children’s carousel pony reminiscent of the Bill Lynch Shows. This heavy plastic pony was rescued by NSCAD student Kelsey Walker who took it home, cleaned it up and turned it into an art piece. Other unusual items found this year included a Chanel perfume bottle, a stuffed toy lobster, and a deep freezer.
Among the recurring items found in the beach debris are plastics of all kinds, including broken fish crates, plastic bags, and plastic tampon applicators from Halifax’s sewage treatment plants, which are supposed to be screened out. We recently learned that several sewage outflows haven’t worked in years, which explains why this garbage is littering the beaches. Tim Horton’s coffee cups are also a major litter problem.
Since 1991, the Friends have collected over 11,600 bags of garbage from the beaches of McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park - making the clean-up effort the largest and longest-running beach cleanup in the Maritimes. These cleanups are costly, costing us about $2,500 each year.
Last year, with funds from Halifax’s trails program, NS Health & Wellness and the Nova Scotia Dental Association, we contracted Sperry Design to design interpretive panels and Lost Art Cartography to design an orientation map for the new kiosk on Garrison Road. Atlantex Creative installed the panels in October. We continued to maintain the composting toilet near Garrison Road and had to repair locks on the maintenance shed, and replace toilet seats destroyed by vandals.
Also for the first time in 20 years, we made significant headway to get the Teahouse cleaned out so it could be opened up again. Old appliances were removed and the building cleared of debris. It is our intention to get the building opened up as a seasonal outdoor education centre.
Over the past five years, the Friends have raised $500,000 to improve the trails and outdoor education infrastructure on McNabs Island. In 2014, Waterfront Development Corporation Ltd. committed to spend $150,000 on improvements to Garrison Pier’s floating dock, purchase additional composting toilets and install wayfinding directional signs on McNabs. This work will be completed in summer 2015.
McNabs Island Events & Activities
The Friends 24th Annual General Meeting was held on April 23, 2014 at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Guest speakers were Brian Kinsman and Doug Oliver from the Department of Natural Resources, who presented the new DNR Trail Plan for the island. We said “thanks” to retiring board member, Jon Cusick, and Heather Whitehead awarding them our Special Friend of the Island Award – a set of McNabs ships’ mugs handcrafted by Sally Ravindra.
We received grants from the provincial and federal government to hire two students, Brooke Stephen and Erin Wynn. The students worked out of space rented from
Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia in Dartmouth. They offered guided tours throughout the summer and often travelled to the island with Murphys as part of a pilot program to offer transportation to the island from downtown Halifax.
Thanks to the efforts of web designer Belinda Naugler Adams, who volunteered to design our new website. The site was launched last fall and features a mobile version, and links to our Facebook page and Twitter feeds. Our new map is now on the site too. We are working on a new map brochure designed by Sperry Design that will be printed in spring 2015.
In the spring of 2014 Royce Walker organized a training session for McNabs Island interpreters. With a growing demand for guided tours, we needed to increase the number of volunteers who can lead tours. Our Fall Foliage Tours held on October 18th attracted over 200 people. A variety of tours were offered including history and nature tours and a tour of the Victorian Gardens.
The Friends continued to sit on the McNabs and Lawlor Island Park Advisory Committee, which has met regularly since 2000. The 2005 Management Plan for the islands has still not been fully implemented.
The society published one newsletter in 2014: December (Vol. 23:1,2). We have an active Facebook page with 780 likes, Twitter account with 2,025 followers, and a new
attractive website. We have over 215 members.
For the past 25 years the Friends have been the voice of McNabs Island – answering numerous requests for information from local residents and people around the world-fundraising to improve the trails, install composting toilets and park benches – all to make McNabs Island a stellar natural environment park for local residents and our many visitors.
Friends of McNabs Island Society
April 22, 2015