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Coastal erosion is threatening two of Point Pleasant Park's historic monuments

The Bonaventure Anchor's away and the Point Pleasant Battery's not holding a charge.

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Bon voyage for Bonaventure Anchor? - RILEY SMITH
  • RILEY SMITH
  • Bon voyage for Bonaventure Anchor?

Waves off the coast of Point Pleasant Park are threatening to sweep away two of the park's most historic military sites.

According to an update to the Point Pleasant Park Comprehensive Long Term Plan, published in September, the Bonaventure Anchor faces relocation while the Point Pleasant Battery will either be buried or demolished in coming years.

"The battery sits on the edge of Halifax Harbour and is in a state of decay," reads the report, prepared by parks and recreations manager Peter Bigelow, which also says, "A strategy regarding the erosion along the Harbour shoreline from Point Pleasant to Black Rock Beach needs to be determined as the area around Point Pleasant Battery and the search light installation will be at risk of failure at some point in the future."

Attention was first drawn to these heritage sites when the Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee commissioned the Comprehensive Plan in 2008. Following the devastation of Hurricane Juan in 2003, this plan was meant to offer future restorative action and highlight areas of concern within the park. The southeastern shore, where both the anchor and the battery are, was deemed the most vulnerable to prevailing storm winds and erosion. The shoreline has lost over 25 metres since 1858 and with predicted sea-level rise, erosion is only expected to worsen.

In 2008 the foundation of the Anchor, as well as the Battery, was already being undermined by coastal erosion. The only action taken by the Municipality in recent years was to fence the most southern point of the Battery. While the city has yet to decide the fate of these heritage sites, park patrons are concerned.

Carrie Surrette brings her dog Bear to the park weekly. "It takes a lot of effort and a lot of money for restoration, so it's hard to justify," she says, "but I think in the long run it's always money well-spent."

The Anchor, which was placed facing the harbour in 1973, belonged to the HMCS Bonaventure of the Royal Canadian Navy. The ship served for 13 years and was decommissioned in 1970 as Canada's last aircraft carrier. Following the ship's retirement, Rear Admiral Robert Timbrell dedicated the Anchor "to the personnel of the Armed Forces of Canada who lost their lives at sea in the performance of their duties and for whom there is no known grave."

As the rocks under the anchor are shifting, the hope is to move it to a more stable area where it can remain visible to ships coming into the harbour.

The Point Pleasant Battery, built in 1762 to combat coastal siege, is the oldest fortification still standing in the park. Both the 2008 comprehensive plan and 2016 update recommend the Battery be entombed. Demolition, with the permission of Parks Canada, has been presented as an alternative.

While protecting the shoreline with armour stone is an option, there are both aesthetic and environmental reasons against armouring the coastline.

"Once you armour one area," says city planner John Charles, "other areas suffer that are unarmored." As partial armourment would only redirect erosion, any armour stone placed would have to surround the entire shoreline, compromising the park's natural aesthetic.

While the city has yet to make an official decision regarding these monuments, the 2016 Comprehensive plan suggests further analysis before Halifax takes action. Other changes to the Park being planned for include a planned sculpture highlighting Mi'kmaq culture and the continual monitoring of the regrowth of the park's trees, while protecting against invasive species.

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