Neighbours upset after singer-heiress blocks access to N.S. beach

A dispute is brewing over access to a popular public beach on St. Margaret's Bay in Nova Scotia. The dispute involves residents of Hackett's Cove and a popular singer who happens to be from the prominent McCain family.

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Residents in Hackett's Cove have long enjoyed the beach, however access to it was recently blocked after Eleanor McCain bought some property in the area where she built her own place.

McCain, daughter of the late Wallace McCain, co-founder of McCain Foods, has released six albums and is a three-time East Coast music award nominee.

McCain’s presence went largely unnoticed, but residents became frustrated when she blocked land-access to a popular local beach. The well-worn path, which cuts right through McCain's property, is now off-limits to the public.

Amy Johnson is a long-time resident of Hackett's Cove. She grew up in the community surrounded by family, and even has a street named after her. She said the blocked access to the beach is on everyone's mind.

"It's the main topic of conversation around here," she told CTV Atlantic.

While the move may be unpopular, McCain is well within her rights. According to the Nova Scotia government, all beaches in the province are considered public land. However, access isn't guaranteed, and landowners have the right to restrict access across their property.

In a statement to CTV Atlantic, McCain said her family wants to enjoy their property in peace.

"Trespassers have been walking through it at all times of the day without regard," she said.

"We had hoped that by raising this issue in a reasonable manner with those trespassing they would understand and respect our concerns. But unfortunately, the trespassing and incidents of vandalism have continued."

McCain also provided photos to CTV Atlantic, showing piles of garbage, damaged trees and leftover debris from campfires left behind by people crossing her land to reach the beach.

Nevertheless, some area residents upset by the blocked access note that other famous neighbours are more open to letting others cross their property.

Resident Ken Banks said access to another beach cuts across the land of singer Anne Murray, yet she still lets people access it.

Johnson echoes the sentiment. "Nature should be shared, and it's not something that anybody owns," she said.

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Bruce Frisko


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