Develop Nova Scotia: Working Waterfronts

Working Waterfronts

Completion of the Lunenburg Big Boat Shed.

Lunenburg has always deftly blended the curiosity and imagination of people and the needs and tradition of industry in a single place, all shaped by the sea. The renovation of the Big Boat Shed is the most recent perfect example of this approach.

This historic anchor building—the site of the birthplace of many storied ships, including the Bluenose II (and adjacent the site of Bluenose)—underwent impressive structural and functional improvements. With the building work complete, this place can continue as a place of wooden ship building and repair, while inviting visitors inside to experience these activities in an up close and accessible way.

This project was an all hands on deck collaboration – the Province of Nova Scotia, Tourism Nova Scotia, ACOA, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, the Lunenburg Marine Museum Society, the Lunenburg Waterfront Association, and the Town of Lunenburg all worked together with Develop Nova Scotia to bring this vision to life. Now the skilled craft of Master builder David Westergard and his apprentices, as well as Fisheries Museum boatbuilder Lisa Zygowski, will be able to be experienced as boats continue to be built on Lunenburg’s working waterfront and the stories that give meaning to this place on the waterfront will continue to unfold.

This is a great example of blending the old with the new. This addition is going to help us keep traditional practices alive, but in a modern context. It’s going to be great for Lunenburg, and I’m really excited that we’re going to be able to share that with people who visit town.

Matt Risser, Mayor of Lunenburg

New multi purpose marine infrastructure improves access to Baddeck and Mahone Bay

As a province that’s nearly surrounded by water, it’s no wonder that water access is an important part of daily life for people for recreation and for business. Investment in waterfront infrastructure around the province that can support multiple purposes, enhancing experiences and growing our economy, is a strategic focus for Develop Nova Scotia. We were proud to participate in two exciting community-led waterfront infrastructure projects this year.

In Baddeck, we lent a hand to the Municipality of the County of Victoria, the Village of Baddeck, and Waterfront Baddeck, and with the support of ACOA we were able to help improve the public wharf. With the construction of all-new floating decks and improvements to the wharf itself Baddeck is now more ready than ever to help locals and visitors, by land and by sea, explore the beautiful Bras d’Or Lakes and the Village of Baddeck.

In Mahone Bay, we supported the Town of Mahone Bay and the Mahone Bay Civic Marina to fund and develop new flexible floating docks for shared public use and access. This popular public marina is now ready to welcome more boaters to the spectacular waters of Mahone Bay.

In both of these projects, Develop Nova Scotia played a supporting role – bringing the skills and resources of our team in a way that supported the strengths of community and filled gaps where needed. These relatively modest investments made big impacts to these already-loved destinations and will make the experience even better for more people.

Lunenburg Smith & Rhuland Shipyard Revitalization

Across Canada and around the world, Lunenburg is known for its rich maritime history including a world-renowned shipbuilding industry which ranged from the Lunenburg dory to schooner Bluenose herself. Today, Develop Nova Scotia is working with the community, the Lunenburg Steering Committee, waterfront tenants, and public partners to ensure a strong future for this town’s shipbuilding reputation.

As part of the Lunenburg Shipyard Revitalization, a new marine services business cluster has assembled at the historic Smith & Rhuland Shipyard on Lunenburg’s working waterfront. This project will breathe new life into the open waterside areas between Clearwater Seafoods and the historic Big Boat Shed. New and enhanced haul-out capabilities enable work on boats year-round, new berthage opportunities and protection for boats through new and enhanced wharf infrastructure and floating dock improvements provide capacity for customers waterside, and seawall improvements contribute to coastal resilience. All come together to enhance a critical centre of economic activity in Lunenburg ensuring it can thrive for years to come, supporting industry, driving new business, and offering good year-round jobs.


The marine-based economy is why we’re here and why we do what we do—and Develop Nova Scotia really gets that. If one boat comes into our harbour for work it can generate business for mechanics for their engines, engineers and electricians for their systems and electronics, upholsters for their fabrics, stores for electronics—and this is all before they need welders, woodworkers, or composite workers for their hull. If one boat can stimulate this much spin-off work, imagine the impact that hundreds coming into our harbours can have.
John Kinley, Lunenburg Foundry

COVE South Marine Terminal

Since 2018, COVE has been serving to advance our ocean economy in Nova Scotia. This collaborative place is innovative, but it’s also dynamic—it’s always evolving in order to further support tenant business growth. A recapitalization of the south marine terminal and a new multi-user marine testing platform (Stella Maris) are important steps forward for COVE.

This year, we began the project to improve 350 metres of wharf space at the south terminal and complete a full wharf recapitalization with full amenities, enabling access for vessels up to 150 metres, along with an additional 60 metres of floating docks for smaller vessels at the small boat facility, land-side access and increased utility infrastructure support. And we enabled the deployment of Stella Maris, a new undersea multi-use platform (the first in Eastern Canada!) that will enable rapid, cost-effective underwater testing to support product development.

Investment in COVE supports a strong ocean technology ecosystem, accelerates and supports the commercialization of good ideas, inspires participation, collaboration and innovation, supports new start-ups and company growth, and contributes to Nova Scotia’s reputation as a global centre of ocean innovation excellence.

Pictou Waterfront Master Plan

The Pictou waterfront played a significant historical role in immigration to Nova Scotia, and is remains a vibrant community on our north shore. In order to set a strong course for its growth and development, the Town of Pictou is working with stakeholders and community to develop a new Waterfront Master Plan for the community. The ambition is to position the waterfront as a destination for Pictonians as an important centre of community and create a magnet for visitors. Developing the waterfront in a strategic and sustainable manner will provide places for people to gather, businesses to start-up and grow and marine industry to thrive.


Over the past few years I have been fortunate to meet with the team at Develop Nova Scotia regarding a number of important projects at various levels of planning in the Town of Pictou. These projects have been integral parts of a revitalization of the Pictou Waterfront as a place to gather for both residents and visitors to our community. This revitalization will also promote regional benefits as both a ‘working waterfront’ and the gateway to the beautiful waterways of Pictou County. The Town of Pictou is very appreciative of our ongoing partnership with Develop Nova Scotia, and we look forward to realizing the long-term benefits of this important waterfront planning initiative.
Jim Ryan, Mayor, Town of Pictou

Marine Visitation Plan

Despite the COVID-19 restriction on recreational marine visitors from outside the province and country, waterways, wharves and floating docks throughout Nova Scotia remained active with local boating families and bubbles enjoying the beautiful Nova Scotia coastline. We saw it in the numbers of local boaters visiting George’s Island, utilizing Halifax and Lunenburg daytime and overnight berthing, and in the impact on marine supply chain – local businesses sold out their stock early and were soon building up waiting lists for the many folks looking to buy a new boat.

Our Marine Visitation Plan continues to act as our compass. In 2020-21 we were able to make some strategic investments in flexible marine infrastructure in various parts of the province, strengthening itineraries to explore Nova Scotia by sea. We also worked with local yacht squadrons, boating associations and groups, and marine stakeholders to improve information on boating infrastructure, servicing and availability around the province.