Nova Scotia is a province in Canada that is famous for its natural beauty and hiking trails. So, wouldn’t it be great if its citizens could access these outdoor recreation spots? It is well-known that spending time in nature has many mental and physical health benefits. Hiking is an activity that eases stress and promotes physical well-being.
It strengthens cardiovascular health and builds muscle and bone density. It can improve self-esteem, quality of sleep and concentration. It provides a beautiful opportunity to detach from technology and promotes community by being a great activity to carry out with a friend or in groups. It is a wonderful way to explore and get to know a place’s natural environment. It is also totally free!
The disappointing beauty of Nova Scotia
I made the decision to move here as an eager 18-year-old, excited to experience a city and province with a different geography, culture and history. I was seduced by the prospect of coastal villages, seals and starfish, hikes, stunning sunsets and surfing, all just outside of
Halifax. Friends of mine who had moved out East would post pictures of these types of places, and I couldn’t wait to experience them for myself.
When I finally made the move, I was greatly disappointed. It turns out that my friends who were posting these pictures all had one thing in common, access to a car and a license. Neither of which I, or anyone I know, have. The inaccessibility of Nova Scotia’s beauty is a huge issue for those living in Halifax.
The student population, immigrant community and other newcomers in Halifax rely almost entirely on public transportation.
This works for day-to-day life within Halifax, but it keeps these groups confined to one hiking spot to experience nature: Point Pleasant Park, located right next to a busy port.
Why is bussing to the Halifax Shopping Centre from anywhere in Halifax incredibly direct, but getting to nationally-renowned trails just a few kilometers out of Halifax without a car is impossible, extremely time consuming, or unsafe?
Trapped in the city
The city must provide equitable access to the very places that draw people to move here. If you can only access substantial green space by car, what message does that send to people who can’t afford to rent or buy a car or acquire a license?
In conversations with fellow transit users about their frustration with the inaccessibility of these beautiful spaces, I have learned that there is a market of people out there, like myself, who want to experience Nova Scotia’s nature, but simply can’t get there.
Many students would love to go for a hike on weekends instead of partying as a means to de-stress. But when one activity is much more accessible, profitable and socially encouraged, of course, the masses will choose the latter.
If the city were to launch a reliable shuttle bus program that operated on weekends and advertised it well, I believe it would be successful. Toronto did exactly that for people to access nearby national parks, and it was extremely popular.
I have come to terms with the fact that it may be a while until I can get out to one of Nova Scotia’s hiking spots.
For the time being, I’ll be sitting in my room, hungover from a night of partying, drooling over pictures that friends of mine with a car-connect can take of these beautiful hikes.