Big bucks for Annapolis Royal floating dock, boat launch

Funds for causeway project come from various sources; total $173,452

Lawrence Powell
Published on January 6, 2017

Pam Vanroestel, Bill MacDonald, Timothy Habinsky, Colin Fraser, and Adrian Nette took part in a funding announcement Friday, Jan. 6 at Annapolis County’s municipal council chambers. The project supported will see a floating dock and boat launch at the east side of the causeway at Granville Ferry.

©Lawrence Powell

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL - There may have been a blizzard Friday in Annapolis Royal, but that didn’t stop three levels of government and a community organization from talking about boating on the Annapolis River.

And come summer, residents and visitors alike could be taking advantage of a new $173,452 boat launch and floating dock system on the east side of the causeway on Highway 1 at Granville Ferry.

West Nova MP Colin Fraser was flanked by Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski, Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill MacDonald, and Pam Vanroestel on behalf of Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil as he announced $93,432 for the project from ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund.

Development activities include improvements to the roadway leading to the boat launch and emergency rescue access; improvements to the parking area to accommodate vehicles, including boat trailers; installation of a boat launch ramp, mooring and floating docks, and landscaping and interpretive signage.

The upgrades will make the site more efficient for pleasure boaters, tour operators, and the fire department's marine rescue operations, ACOA said in a media release. It said the development will enhance a section of the waterfront that is currently underutilized, resulting in increased use of the outdoor recreation space by residents and visitors alike.


Other Funds

The project is also being supported by a $35,000 contribution from Nova Scotia Communities, Culture and Heritage, and a combined $45,020 contribution from the Nicholson Foundation, the Annapolis Royal Wharf Association, and Jost Architects Ltd.

"We feel very fortunate to be able to support accessibility to the Annapolis River which, until now, had been an under-appreciated gem of our landscape and our history,” said Peter Nicholson of the Nicholson Foundation.

County CAO John Ferguson also singled out Jane Nicholson who worked on the project through the wharf association.

“Our region’s unparalleled heritage and culture have long inspired stories and songs feeding the hearts and minds of residents and visitors alike,” said Fraser. “As a tourism draw Annapolis County’s strength is a commitment to preserve the past and share its living history with visitors.”

He said recent reports from the Annapolis Royal Visitor Information Centre show more than 17,000 tourists in 2016 seeking a variety of tourism experiences.

“One of those experiences flows along 120 kilometres of beautiful Nova Scotia countryside from Caribou Bog to Port Royal,” he said. “The Annapolis River has been aptly called a living ribbon of culture, opportunity, community connectivity, and history. Canoeing along the river you almost have a sense of paddling past history. This scenic waterway is also a favourite spot for kayaking, fishing, dragon boat racing, and community events including the Annapolis River Festival.”

When you have cooperation with all levels of government to support a community-led and community-developed initiative. That's how government functions best. Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski


“This is an example of how government works best,” said Habinski. “When you have cooperation with all levels of government to support a community-led and community-developed initiative. That’s how government functions best. And I cannot say enough about the volunteers – Annapolis Royal Wharf Association – who recognized that one of the greatest assets of this region is the river. It’s one of our historical treasures. And (they) sought to find a way to enhance it and use that as an asset to draw more people to the area and to improve the life experience of the people who actually live here.”

“This really is an example of ‘if you build it they will come,’” said MacDonald. “We all hold great promise for this project. Wonderful news today about the access, the enhancements to that area. That’s going to be an enhancement to the gateway to Annapolis Royal, into this county at this end.”

And MacDonald said there is a precedent-setting element to the project: trilingual signs in French, English, and Mi’kmaq.

“That’s a wonderful, wonderful thing,” he said. “We enjoy our quality of life here on the ancestral lands of the Mi’kmaq people. And it’s wonderful that it’s reflected in that way and I think perhaps to the credit of the organizers. They may in fact be setting a precedent that I’d like to see in the town of Annapolis Royal as well – that all of our signage is reflected in that way.”


Had A Dream

Vanroestel said Premier McNeil has been very supportive of the project. She said if it hadn’t been for the volunteers who had a dream, and decided it needed to happen, the project wouldn’t have been announced Friday.

“I think it’s a wonderful partnership,” she said. “It’s always a great opportunity when we can partner with the federal government and municipal government to make a project like this happen. I think we all recognize the Annapolis River is a wonderful resource. We live in a river valley and it’s a great opportunity to be able to capitalize on that.”

“We’ve all been kicking around the phrase ‘build it and they will come,’ – and I’m sure they will,” said Annapolis Royal Wharf Association president Adrian Nette. “Another expression I’d like to coin here is ‘if you have a good idea the ground-swell support will show itself.’ And that’s exactly what’s happening here.”

He said it’s not just a good idea for Granville Ferry and Annapolis Royal, noting project links communities. Murray Freeman, who spearheaded the floating dock project in Bridgetown was at the announcement and Nette said he’s sure Freeman is glad to see the Granville Ferry installation.

“Because what it’s doing is connecting the dots,” said Nette, “and we’re going to see the bigger picture come to fruition.”



The floating dock will have a shore base with articulated gangway that will attach to the floating dock and rise and fall with the tides. The dock itself will have three fingers, enabling six boats to tie up. The grade of the boat launch will be such that trucks can back trailers into the water without submersing exhaust systems. And sand will be brought in to create a small beach for sun seekers. The entire area will be parklike with easy access for those wishing to fish off the shoreline.

The county will maintain and be responsible for the new facility.