An unpleasant-smelling summer for an iconic Nova Scotia tourist town

A fetid smell is bedevilling one of Canada's most recognizable seaside communities at the height of tourism season, with residents saying they're often forced to roll up their windows and abandon their balconies.

Kevin Ernst lives on Lunenburg's back harbour and says he has had to leave his barbecue and head inside several times this summer because of an odour with a distinctly pungent odour similar to a dirty diaper.

The 53-year-old former fisherman's home is directly across the harbour from the town's sewage treatment plant, something he claims is a blight on the community that has fouled the air and its iconic shoreline.

Residents say the 15-year-old plant has spoiled the scenic setting that is home to the famed Bluenose II schooner and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lunenburg is the third most visited site in the province, and tourism operators say some visitors have expressed concern.

Ernst says the problem is compounded by harbour waters contaminated by fecal bacteria that routinely exceed Health Canada guidelines and can pose risks to boaters.

The municipality is installing a $1.1-million biofilter at the plant to reduce the odour, while also regularly measuring bacteria in Lunenburg harbour and doing an engineering study on the plant and the sewage system.