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NS expanding parking lot capacity at Crystal Crescent Beach 

Beach capacity to remain the same.

click to enlarge Even in the chill of winter, Crystal Crescent is a delight. - THE COAST
  • Even in the chill of winter, Crystal Crescent is a delight.
  • THE COAST
Halifax's beloved beaches—whose role in the identity of this place became crystal clear during the early days of strict COVID-19 lockdowns—are a finite and fabulous resource.

Those with access to cars load up the cooler, lather on the sunscreen, bring an extra layer just in case the sun goes away, and head to where the sea meets the sand all summer—and spring and fall–long.

And this year, one of the province's most popular beaches, Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park, will see its parking lot expanded. Work is already underway, and on Jan 1 you could see the swath of land to the right of the traditional lot cleared and ready for construction.

For anyone who has arrived at the end of Sambro Creek Road to chaos and confusion, thanks to folks parking on both sides of the road into the beach, this could be a welcome improvement. Just last year, HRP responded to 20 calls to the area for traffic calming. And in past years people have taken to the social medias to lament those who don't follow the proper overflow parking etiquette (only park on one shoulder, not both shoulders), or that they had to lug their children and their toys the extra kilometres to arrive at paradise's edge.

Apparently, the province heard these cries and decided to act. (Cries about myriad other issues, however, like permanent measures for rent control, increased funding to gender-based violence programs, even HRM's repeated request for permission to bring in inclusionary zoning, remain unanswered).

In a news release, the province said it's almost doubling the capacity of the parking lot. But the beach itself, obviously, will be staying the same size.

In 2014, WIRED wrote about the concept of induced demand—specifically when it came to traffic. Induced demand, it said, "is economist-speak for when increasing the supply of something makes people want that thing even more."

Though some traffic engineers made note of this phenomenon at least as early as the 1960s, the article continues, it is only in recent years that social scientists have collected enough data to show how this happens pretty much every time we build new roads.

It's happened all around the world, where adding an extra lane of traffic or further vehicle infrastructure didn't address the overflow problem, it actually made it worse. And Crystal Cresent is still only accessible by car, leaving anyone who relies on Halifax Transit to get around HRM out of luck, and the possibility of using shared public transit to cut down on congestion, instead of cutting down trees, off the table.

click to enlarge Crystal Crescent is Sambro's white-sand escape and one of our best beaches - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • Crystal Crescent is Sambro's white-sand escape and one of our best beaches
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton
Already each year, 40,000 people visit Crystal Crescent Beach—each person with good reason. Deborah Bayer, communications advisor with the NS department of lands and forestry told The Coast in an email that "due to the increasing popularity of Crystal Crescent Beach, we did receive reports of overcapacity and cars parked along the road."

"Almost doubling the parking capacity at Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park," she says, "will enable visitors to safely park at one of Nova Scotia's most popular beach parks."

Whether or not it will just make the spot even more popular and cars will continue to pile up and park along the road is to be seen. 

In total, NS will pay $680,000 for the upgrades, and the new lot should be ready for when the gate is opened up come May 1. Bayer added that there are no plans to open up the gate year-round at this time, though people are encouraged to use the park in the offseason–just know you'll have to park behind the gate and on a busy day could be parking a fair bit down the road. But, as they say, a walk could do you good.

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