Tourism operator says Arthur left P.E.I. campers ‘vulnerable’

Dave Stewart
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Tourism operator Bob Boyle, who also serves as chairman of a tourism partnership that represents 700 other operators, said Monday that emergency shelters could have been set up during tropical storm Arthur for people whose only home on Saturday was a tent.

Provincial director of Canadian Red Cross says a plan was in place

A prominent tourism operator on the Island’s north shore says tenters should have been offered shelter on the weekend.

Bob Boyle, who runs a drive-in and hotel in Brackley and is chairman of the Central Coastal Tourism Partnership, says alternative accommodations like shelters could have been offered to those staying in a tent as post tropical storm Arthur slammed into P.E.I.

“These people were vulnerable,’’ Boyle said Monday.

Campgrounds were packed and hotels were full as thousands of tourists descended on the province this weekend for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. Saturday’s concert was cancelled due to the storm. Winds in Charlottetown peaked over 100 km/h, not the greatest weather to be stuck in a tent.

Boyle said his seven hotel rooms sold out when the concerts were announced late last year. He said people who booked those rooms took in friends who were supposed to camp out in tents elsewhere.

“When I got to bed (Saturday) night I started to think about it. If everything is full where do tenters go? I thought maybe somebody could do a better job there.’’

Boyle added that a lot of tenters would have been students or young adults that can’t exactly afford the cost of hotel rooms at this time of year — on top of the cost of concert tickets and everything else.

“We’ve got thousands of people here on the Island that are vulnerable. We’ve invited them here to the Island,’’ he said, in reference to the music festival. “As hosts, we should have some sort of responsibility there.’’

Boyle said he had a number of trees fall in the wind, proving that tenting in a campground with trees wouldn’t be the safest place to be.

Boyle said when he lived in Florida, shelters were always set up and open when tropical storms hit.

The Guardian talked with one couple who tented on the weekend but didn’t want to do an interview. They did say their tent was destroyed in the wind Saturday and that they scrambled to find alternative accommodations.

Laura Montigny, provincial director for the Canadian Red Cross, said there was a plan in place but that it’s the responsibility of each municipality to put in into action.

“We worked closely with the joint Emergency Operations Centre. They were also communicating out weather updates,’’ Montigny said. “All of our volunteers across Atlantic Canada were on standby.’’

She said there were some shelters set up in New Brunswick.

“We have a list of shelters across the Island that we could use,’’ Montigny said, referring to various community halls, schools and arenas. “It’s the municipalities’ responsibility to push that button.’’

Private campground business owners would be responsible for their own customers. None of messages left at various campgrounds by The Guardian were returned immediately.

Montigny said there was also an informal plan in place, if need be, to set up a command post at Lake of Shining Waters in Cavendish to handle things in the area.

Matthew Jelley, former president of the Cavendish Beach and Dunes Shores Tourism Association and current owner of Lake of Shining Waters, said he didn’t think the need was there to open shelters.

Jelley added that there is a personal responsibility at play, too. The storm was forecast days ahead of time and hit exactly as meteorologists had predicted.

Boyle said it all makes him wonder how bad things have to get before shelters are at least offered to tenters.

“If this wasn’t bad enough, then what is?’’ Boyle said.

Organizations: Central Coastal Tourism Partnership, Emergency Operations Centre, Cavendish Beach and Dunes Shores Tourism Association

Geographic location: Iceland, P.E.I., Brackley Charlottetown Lake of Shining Waters Florida Atlantic Canada New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • eddie frank
    July 08, 2014 - 21:13

    You new Arthur was coming. Its not the governments fault. If anyone should compensate these tenters it should be the CBMF or all these so called new camp sites that pop up for the weekend. $200.00 to camp in a hay field, wow. Im sure all the organizers have made a few dollars now, maybe its time to give some back.

  • Former Island Son
    July 08, 2014 - 17:04

    ahhh yes the ME ME ME generation its all about me me me , well guess what they discovered the center of the universe and guess what you aint there ...As for A. Veness , suck it up buttercup no one owes you anything , the warning reports were well posted before the Cavendish Beach Music Festival started and you failed to comprehend it. So no one is at fault but you ...Here is a tissue you can use while i play a sad tune on my fiddle for ya...

    July 08, 2014 - 12:46

    You don't like those tenters, do you Bob.You would rather they didn't allow tenters at all, then all your motels and BB's would be full all the time. As Chairman of the Central Coastal Tourism Partnership, (whoever they are), maybe it is incumbent upon you and your board to bring these issues to the proper authorities attention, rather than an after the fact photo op.

    • Bob Boyle
      July 08, 2014 - 13:27

      Upwester: I do like tenters and all guest to this island. I fact I grow up at The KOA camp ground ( Forest Hills ),. As operators we are thought to go above and beyond for our guest. I simply think an offer of shelter should have been made . Many of the campers / tenters are youth and may not have many options. I know many stayed in their cars over night and I believe that is just not right. If only 10 people showed up fine at least those 10 would feel cared for.

  • common sense
    July 08, 2014 - 11:43

    When I heard the forecast for last weekend, the first thing I said was, "this is going to be an indoor weekend. What do we need to secure/move inside?" So.. for those of you who knowingly CHOSE to go tenting in a hurricane... I have only one word... STUPID.

    • A. Veness
      July 08, 2014 - 14:14

      Stupid? How stupid would it be to forfeit the $1000 + we paid out for out tickets and tent site at the mere "forecast" of a storm? Have you honestly never experienced a foreboding forecast only to have it amount to nothing at all? Our costs were non-refundable... period. We were counting on the Festival's organizers to cancel if they felt it was unsafe to visit that weekend.... for your EMO to offer simple shelter... not meals or water or power... we were prepared to fend for ourselves when camping... just a sound roof over our heads if the storm actually turned out to be serious... as it did. Those of you who are blaming the campers for making poor decisions are not looking at the dollars we laid out, up to a year in advance, with no hope of getting any back unless the ORGANIZERS and regional AUTHORITIES saw fit to cancel the event.

  • Amy
    July 08, 2014 - 11:40

    They were forcasting for this storm all week!! People still chose to go to cavendish and camp out in tents. How is that anyone else's fault?

  • voter
    July 08, 2014 - 11:17

    NO ONE FORCED YOU TO GO OUT IN THIS !!! the government takes care of everything,eh??? !!!! especially when people did not or won't help themselves !! what ever happened to taking responsibility for your own actions ? the government and taxpayers didn't order the storm --if you decide to go out in the storm take care of yourself !!! i think if the government does help then you should pay for their help ,not taxpayers !!!

  • Angela Veness
    July 08, 2014 - 09:10

    Thank you Mr. Boyle for voicing what so many campers have been saying to each other. I've been in contact with your Premier's office and will follow up with the EMO contact they have given me. For anyone else who would like to contact EMO and make their complaint to the person responsible for NOT enacting services for tenters the contact is Tanya Mullalley at 894-0385.

  • Hurricaine Arthur
    July 08, 2014 - 08:15

    Well, The Cavendish Beach Festival did not cancel until Noon on Saturday. I really think the term "Post Tropical Storm" is a weak version of what the weather is doing. This was a bad storm and there were really light warnings. Guess I am used to being South where they do not mince words about an impending storm.

    • nitpicker
      July 08, 2014 - 10:40

      Light warnings? There was a tropical storm warning, plus wind warning, forecasting strong winds all day with gusts to 90km, along with rain. I'm not sure what words were minced since the forecast and warnings seemed to be to be bang on.

  • Jon
    July 08, 2014 - 08:14

    When you think, "maybe somebody should help", its time to get out a mirror

  • Peter
    July 08, 2014 - 07:54

    The "regulations" were, I presume, put in place to stop people like myself, from offering reasonable priced accommodations (IE: a bedroom in our home) to tourists, thereby "taking business away from licensed Tourism Operators" The way I see it... Tourism Operators want it all... they got it all! When word gets out about what happened to these tenting tourists, I don't think it will be very flattering to PEI's Tourist Industry.

  • Peter
    July 08, 2014 - 07:44

    to Al Jardine: I don't know this "Don" person, but I can answer the question you put to him. No, he did not offer to put people up at his house during the storm. Neither did I, and I live in a house with two empty bedrooms. I could easily accommodate 10 or 12 people when you think about sleeping bags. So why did I? Same reason Don didn't ... Our houses weren't "inspected" and we faced a huge fine if we took people in. Thanks to The executive director of Quality Tourism Services Inc., Heath MacDonald. If we took people in, we'd be accused of "renting out" accommodations for less than 30 days ... and fined a minimum of $1000.00 for not having been inspected (at the cost of $175.00). I don't believe the "Officials" would accept that we didn't get paid for taking people in.

    • Trevor MacRae
      July 08, 2014 - 09:29

      Hey Peter (I'm not brave enough to sign my last name), don't shoot the messenger. QTS is in charge of enforcing the rules. They didn't write them. As much as I disagree with some of the rules and standards that are in place, Heath is just doing his job. Calling him out, then assigning blame, without having the 'nads to identify yourself is more wrong than what you're complaining about.

  • joke
    July 08, 2014 - 05:46

    Matthew Jelley maybe some of our tourism dollars could have been spent warning tourists not to come to the island because of the storm . then if it didnt happen we could hear him whine. as we all know weather forecasters are correct 100% of the time

  • justin
    July 08, 2014 - 02:47

    So why didn't Boyles do something himself? He sounds like someone just looking for some attention. Everyone knew the storm was coming for a week in advance not to mention all the people are adults themselves. If you know a tropical storm with high winds is forecasted and you still decide to sleep in a tent that that is your responsibility. Personal responsibility comes with being an adult.

    • joke
      July 08, 2014 - 06:53

      guess you were never a teenager

  • Shelter Seeker
    July 08, 2014 - 01:52

    Bob Boyle, what a great idea, offering shelter from the storm. And are you willing to open up your business for free? Or is your business willing to pay a fee towards having one opened? Because as a tax payer, I don't want it coming out of the Healthcare or Education budgets.

  • businesspeople are whiners
    July 07, 2014 - 23:46

    Hey Bob Boyle.... Environment Canada was telling people FIVE DAYS before the storm hit that it was going to be dangerous in the Maritimes on the weekend. If I was camping, I would have packed up my tent and gear and driven inland a couple of days and landed somewhere in Ontario or Manitoba. Campers were not FORCED to stay in PEI to weather out the storm. They could have left. This is not an issue of the government not providing shelter. It is an issue of campers making very poor choices and money hungry tourism operators ignoring their obligation to provide sound advice to their customers. YOU are at fault.

    • A. Veness
      July 08, 2014 - 08:04

      May I point out that we campers could NOT have left the island... the ferries, airport and bridge were all closed due to the storm!!!! The hotel and cottage rooms were booked out months ago therefore paying yet more money into the island's tourism coffers was also not an option. I believe that if you had been sitting beside your flailing tent all day Saturday you might feel differently about our limited choices.

    • A Veness is a whiner
      July 08, 2014 - 11:39

      Read my previous post. YOU WERE NOT FORCED TO COME TO PEI TO CAMP. You knew a storm was coming, yet you came here. Now you expect taxpayers to look after you because of your poor judgement and inability to read weather warnings???? I'm sorry but please go to some other place where you'll find more sympathy. You get zero from me and the majority of Canadians and Americans.

    • A. Veness
      July 08, 2014 - 14:41

      Read your own post again.... I was responding to your comment " Campers were not FORCED to stay in PEI to weather out the storm. They could have left.". No.... as I pointed out we could not. And now you say that we were not forced to COME to the Island to camp. No we were not. However I was relying on the Festival organizers and/or the EMO and/or the Province to cancel the event if it was to be unsafe on the weekend. If they had cancelled we would have been able to recoup at least SOME of the $1000 + that we had laid out up to a year ago .... without cancellation by authorities we would forfeit all of that. Can you afford to do that based on a weather forecast? I can't. Have you honestly never heard a terrible forecast turn out to be nothing at all?? I have. We didn't expect anyone to feed us, provide water or blankets or anything else.... just a solid roof over our heads during the worst of the storm if it actually did hit. And have any of you even noticed the fact that none of the campers are crying about money spent for a concert not provided? No one is asking for a partial refund because the weather ripped us all off of a full day and the two top performers scheduled to appear. We understand that the weather can't be controlled, it's beyond anyone's expectations that money be refunded for a change of plans that could not be avoided. A little shelter in the storm is a Maritime tradition... expected... appreciated... and NOT delivered by anyone on your beloved Island.

  • don
    July 07, 2014 - 22:24

    Matthew Jelley. next time we have a storm like that i want to see you and your family stay in a tent and see if you like it. and we all know it is guys like you that cares less as long as the money comes in. that is not the real island way now is it?

    • Al Jardine
      July 08, 2014 - 05:34

      Gee Don, did you offer to put people up at your house during the storm? Better yet, next time there is a storm open your home up as a shelter, but my guess is that you won't because much easier for you to talk down on someone than it is to do something about it yourself

    • joke
      July 08, 2014 - 06:58

      al jardine maybe he did and you are the one talking down to someone when you dont know all the facts

    • huh
      July 08, 2014 - 07:48

      That's funny, Don. You had no sympathy for owners of damaged boats, saying that there was plenty of warning that the storm was coming and they had lots of time to get the boats out of the water. The tenters also had warning. Plenty of time to go home. Why the inconsistent opinion?

    • don
      July 08, 2014 - 07:54

      Al Jardine. well little boy. i have a few years ago.but red cross and the emo talked but nothing happened. i did notice we had more info from emo from NS then we did from PEI why? i guess the minister could not afford it. and i did not talk down the big mouth i just said next storm he can try and stay in a tent to see what it is like. now al tell me how many post tropical storms and hurricanes have you been in? i have been personally i have been in 2 in florida both cat 2 and on pei. 6. so al tell me how many for you?

      July 08, 2014 - 10:03

      Don, what does all this gibberish about how many storms you've seen have to do with Al's question. Did you offer to take in anyone during the storm? I'm assuming not and if that's the case why would you expect Mr. Jelley to do that? As always, you criticize everyone else but offer nothing yourself. Tiring.