Tourists admiring the view from the most northerly point in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton on Sunday (Sept. 2) were unanimous in their opinion that a fence should not be erected at the Meat Cove Campground.
That’s in response to the death of a 64-year-old man, who had been camping in the hamlet alone and fell over a 100-foot cliff sometime after dark on Aug. 24, the Cape Breton Post reported.
Susumu Yoda of Bedford had been camping close to the cliff’s edge. RCMP ruled his death an accident, but investigators couldn’t determine whether it was a case of him wandering too close to the edge of the embankment in the dark, or if he lost his footing resulting in the fall.
On Sunday, those visiting the remote community — a trip of about 5 miles from the nearby community of Capstick on a winding, narrow dirt road — believe a fence or railing would only take away from the natural beauty of the area.
Justin Duc of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario was hiking through the community with his girlfriend, Sarah Chew, when they stopped to sit at a picnic table near the cliff.
Duc said he doesn’t believe building a fence is the answer.
“Obviously it’s a good idea for safety’s sake, but that seal there that I just saw, I probably wouldn’t have seen it if there was a fence right there,” he said.
“At some point people have to take responsibility for their own actions. I’m not trying to be insensitive to the guy that passed away, but you’ve got to realize it’s dangerous to stand that close. You’ve just got to be respectful of it.”
Chew added there are enough man-made barriers elsewhere for safety reasons and for one more fence to go up would only detract from what nature lovers go there to see.
“Just leave it as is. It’s so beautiful here,” she said.
Gisele Rocheleau of Montreal, camping in Nova Scotia for the first time, was reading a book inside her camper van at the Meat Cove Campground.
Speaking in broken English, Rocheleau said she didn’t believe a fence or further regulations dictating where campers can set up a tent are needed.
“It’s just the adult that are here. No, I don’t think so.”
Provincial regulations state that managers of campgrounds must keep their campsites safe and well maintained. However, nothing is said about the need for fences or other barriers.
The owner of the Meat Cove Campground has already said he doesn’t intend to erect a fence at the edge of the cliff.
Local fire officials would like to see a fence installed to keep the curious onlookers back.
The Bay St. Lawrence volunteer fire department was the first group of emergency personnel to arrive on the scene of the fatal accident on Aug. 24.
Fire chief Clayton MacKinnon has said it may be time to look at a barrier to protect people.
He said from the discussions he’s had with residents in surrounding communities, it’s time something should be done.
However, Margaret Hemnes disagrees.
“People should be free to exercise their own judgment. I realize it was a tragedy and a lot of services were enlisted to help … (but) if you erect one fence, you’re going to have to start erecting a lot of fences,” said Hemnes, who lives in Margaree Harbour, and is originally from Peru, Vt.