En­large­ment of Grand Bay West beach park­ing lot wor­ries some res­i­dents

Port aux Basques town man­ager says park­ing area is not within pro­tected ste­ward­ship area

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front Page - BY ROSALYN ROY

Now that more ameni­ties have been added to the Grand Bay West beach area, the pop­u­lar walk­ing trail and soft sandy beach is at­tract­ing more lo­cals and tourists.

Pub­lic re­strooms have been built, and colour­ful Adiron­dack chairs and pic­nic ta­bles are plen­ti­ful. There’s even a vol­ley­ball net for im­promptu games, and a free wheelchair avail­able for use on the beach for any­one who might need it.

But work to en­large the small park­ing lot off Kyle Lane re­sulted in some so­cial me­dia back­lash for the town once work be­gan on Tues­day, Aug. 28.

Dur­ing the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions on the fu­ture of Grand Bay West Beach held by Port aux Basques Town Coun­cil ear­lier this year, one of the top­ics iden­ti­fied as need­ing im­prove­ment was park­ing.

“Park­ing com­plaints were fre­quently brought up dur­ing all three con­sul­ta­tions on Grand Bay West Beach,” town man­ager Leon MacIsaac told The Gulf News via email. “A num­ber of area res­i­dents com­plained of vis­i­tors to the beach caus­ing road con­ges­tion and block­ing ac­cess to drive­ways. It was a re­sult of those meet­ings and the com­plaints re­ceived that the ex­ten­sion of the park­ing lot be given pri­or­ity.”

Neil Os­mond is an avid out­doors­man and a mem­ber of Port aux Basques con­ser­va­tion group, Sou’Wes New­found­land Delta Wa­ter­fowl.

“The prob­lem there is the back­fill­ing now is so close to the la­goon,” says Os­mond. “It’s a spot for birds cross­ing the Gulf Strait on their mi­gra­tion pat­tern.”

Like many oth­ers who com­mented on a pub­lic Face­book page post, Os­mond is wor­ried that back­fill­ing the lot might com­pro­mise the ecosys­tem and af­fect this an­nual cy­cle.

“It’s a pretty im­por­tant area,” he said.

Os­mond be­lieves the park­ing area falls within a ste­ward­ship agree­ment signed by the town in 2003. He’s seen the ste­ward­ship maps and has read the boundary mark­ers.

“The only ac­tiv­i­ties per­mit­ted must have no ef­fect on wildlife and wa­ter­fowl,” says Os­mond.

MacIsaac says the park­ing lot area in ques­tion does not fall within the pro­tected mark­ers.

“The Mu­nic­i­pal Ste­ward­ship Agree­ment boundary en­com­passes an area which in­cludes all points within the bound­aries of Kyle Av­enue, Grand Bay West Road, Trans-Canada High­way, Pro­vin­cial Park (Cheese­man’s) boundary and the coast­line,” MacIsaac ex­plains. “Within that zone there are a num­ber of ar­eas de­fined for pro­tec­tion such as Os­mond’s Beach, Short Sand Beach, Big Bara­chois Beach, Bot­ties Bara­chois Beach, Sec­ond Beach and the sand dunes area. The pro­tected zones do not ex­tend south past Sec­ond Beach.

“These sec­tions are de­fined un­der the Ste­ward­ship Agree­ment to pro­vide pro­tec­tion for wildlife and fauna. All other ar­eas within that boundary have not been de­fined to date for pro­tec­tion other than the ar­eas de­fined within the Land Use Zones des­ig­na­tion of ‘En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion’ in the Town of Chan­nel – Port Aux Basques De­vel­op­ment Reg­u­la­tions. The area where blasted rock is be­ing placed is de­fined as Open Space where that ac­tiv­ity is a per­mit­ted use.”

Whether or not it is per­mit­ted, Os­mond is among those who still be­lieves the town could have eas­ily lo­cated the park­ing ex­ten­sion else­where.

“There’s a lot of bet­ter al­ter­na­tives,” says Os­mond, point­ing to a gated area out­side the cur­rent park­ing lot and im­me­di­ately be­side the re­strooms. “They could have put it any­where on this road and I don’t think there would have been an is­sue.” But MacIsaac dis­agrees. “The area beyond the fence was not con­sid­ered for ex­ten­sion as the ex­ist­ing park­ing area was al­ready es­tab­lished out­side the fenced area. If the ex­ten­sion to the park­ing area was in a de­fined pro­tected zone the town would not have con­sid­ered or pro­ceeded with back­fill­ing,” he noted.

Mean­while oth­ers on the so­cial me­dia post have noted that the town is ac­tively back­fill­ing when home­own­ers along Kyle Lane have been pre­vented from do­ing so.

MacIsaac did not con­firm whether or not home­own­ers have been or­dered to back­fill their prop­er­ties, but did state, “If a res­i­den­tial prop­erty on Kyle Lane had been or­dered not to back­fill their lots it would be due to in­tru­sion into a coastal/wa­ter­ways reser­va­tion buf­fer, which is likely clearly de­fined on their prop­erty sur­veys. The Town can­not per­mit back­fill­ing into ar­eas that are not un­der own­er­ship of the prop­erty owner or un­der the pro­tec­tion of a reser­va­tion buf­fer. If prop­erty own­ers have concerns as to coun­cil’s re­stric­tions on back­fill­ing, they can con­tact me, and I’ll plot their sur­vey on aerial map­ping to il­lus­trate why coun­cil made that de­ci­sion.”

Even though it is not man­dated by law, Os­mond would have liked to have seen some en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­ta­tion done prior to start­ing the work.

“One of the first things they taught us in school is about the wet­lands, the ecosys­tem,” says Os­mond. “There’s been lots of changes over the years. It’s a sin to de­stroy some­thing so nice.”

J.R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Neil Os­mond is among those wor­ried about wa­ter­fowl that may be ad­versely af­fected by the en­large­ment of the Grand Bay West beach park­ing lot.

J.R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

As Grand Bay West beach con­tin­ues to grow in pop­u­lar­ity, park­ing has be­come more of an is­sue for nearby res­i­dents.

ROSALYN ROY — THE GULF NEWS

Port aux Basques town man­ager Leon MacIsaac says the area be­ing back­filled is con­sid­ered open space and does not fall within a pro­tected area.

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