Now that untreated sewage is flowing freely into the Halifax Harbour, some people think it will be a big blow to the tourism season. Others don’t think tourists will know the difference.
Derek Stewart, manager of Cows on the Halifax waterfront, hopes a busy summer schedule of events, including the Tall Ships Festival, will even things out, but he imagines some Haligonians will stay away.
“I’m sure among the locals it’ll begin to get a bit of a reputation. You know, ‘don’t go around the waterfront because of the odour,’” he said. “So I think we’re going to lose some local traffic.”
Wastewater has been flowing into the harbour since January when a flood at the Halifax treatment facility caused a power outage that put the $54-million facility out of commission.
The plant isn’t scheduled to re-open until next spring.
Then last week, it was discovered HRM’s water commission has, or soon will be, removing the eight sewage screens at outfall stations which was keeping solid waste, also known as “floatables,” out of the harbour.
Tourism Nova Scotia officials say they don’t think the breakdown of the plant will have any effect on numbers. Some businesses agree.
Jeff Farwell, owner of Murphy’s on the Water, said he was disappointed the sewage plant broke down, but said people flocked to the water for centuries before the plants and he’s not concerned about this year being any different.
“We feel the summer will be just like every other summer when the sewage treatment was not online,” he said.
Tristan Legg came in from Middle Musquodoboit to walk along the Halifax waterfront Saturday afternoon. He said a polluted harbour was “Halifax’s dirty secret” and tourists don’t really factor it into their decision to visit.
“It’s not like we depend on people swimming in the harbour,” he said.