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An Accessible Peggy’s Cove: Making Nova Scotian Landmarks Welcoming

View of Peggy's Cove and Accessibility Ramps

Peggy’s Cove is treasured as one of Atlantic Canada’s most iconic landmarks, revered for its rugged beauty. In 2021, the Cove underwent substantial renovations to incorporate accessibility into its landscape. Now open to the public, the accessible viewing deck, walkways, and washrooms enable more locals and visitors to enjoy the splendour of Peggy’s Cove. In the summer of 2022, these substantial modifications were recognized by the Rick Hansen Foundation of Accessibility Certification (RHFAC) with a distinguished Gold rating for its accessibility. 


RHFAC Professional, Kristen Habermehl, worked with the project designers to ensure the Cove demonstrated maximum accessibility. “Over the course of two years, we worked through the design and build of all the accessible facilities of Peggy’s Cove” she recalls.  


Kristen notes that there were numerous challenges that the design team faced when trying to make the Cove’s rugged terrain accessible. “You have to accept that the lighthouse is on the hill of a village, so there are natural experiences in the landscape that can’t be overcome.” The design team combatted these barriers by designing a viewing deck that projects over the rocks, without obstructing the view or access to the lighthouse. Walkways were improved for ease of travel. Unavoidable barriers in the terrain that surrounded the deck were addressed by incorporating signage to warns visitors of hazards, such as steep inclines. Kristen describes the collective work of the the whole team as “innovative” and “excellent”. 


When asked about her response to several concerns that arose from the public regarding the Coves’ modifications, Kristen remarked “I can appreciate why something as timeless and treasured as Peggy’s Cove would create concern about anything being changed or altered, but once the public saw what had been created, and how others could still enjoy the rugged experience on the rocks while offering the opportunity to include everyone in the beauty of the surroundings, it seems everyone is now very proud to call Peggy’s cove accessible.” 


Although Kristen holds a lengthy resume of prestigious projects, she describes working on Peggy’s Cove as a unique pleasure in her career. “It was very special to me to be part of this project as a Nova Scotian,” she says. “I also take great pleasure in the natural beauty of the surroundings in Peggy’s Cove.” Kristen says she has returned to the Cove for numerous personal visits since the reopening and always enjoys seeing people of all abilities enjoying one of her favourite Canadian views. Kristen hopes that the success of the Peggy’s Cove project will set a precedent for accessible landmarks across Canada, inviting more Canadians and visitors to enjoy the splendour that our country offers! 


 -Rachel Habermehl,   September 13th, 2022