CAVENDISH — Parks Canada does not feel compelled to follow the P.E.I. government fire bans, a meeting in Cavendish was told.
The matter was raised this week at the annual meeting of the resort municipality, which includes a large number of communities around Cavendish, including New London, North Rustico and everything between.
Resident Mike Arnold told the meeting of his frustration at discovering fires burning in the park this summer.
“My wife and I were the ones that were down in the (Cavendish) campground, realizing there was a provincial fire ban, and yet fires were burning in the National Park campground,” Arnold told the annual meeting.
“We raised these issues, not just with our municipality but with Parks Canada and wherever we could and we were told that Parks Canada is not subject to any provincial fire ban. I understand they still believe that is the case.”
Arnold said he met with Jewel Cunningham, the head of Parks Canada operations on P.E.I. about this and other issues.
“She wouldn’t commit to say that the next time there is a provincial fire ban that it will apply to Parks Canada on P.E.I.,” said Arnold.
Parks Canada eventually did put in its own fire ban in place this summer, but that didn’t end the problem, said Arnold.
“We went through the park ground again and there were several fires burning,” said Arnold. “We, in turn, emailed that night and were assured that then, the fires were put out.”
Arnold wonders if it is legal for Parks Canada to ignore provincial fire bans.
“I would like our municipality to really push that item through provincial law and federal law,” said Arnold. “It just doesn’t seem right that on one side of the road, no fires, the other side of the road, go ahead and burn.”
“The concern is valid,” said Trevor Rendell from Parks Canada who attended the meeting. “The province does calculate their own fire-weather index, as do we.
“We have a weather station located on the North Shore, which we believe really reflects the North Shore conditions and that is what we use to calculate our weather-fire index. It varies a little bit from the province, from the weather stations that are more inland. They have to represent the entire province. We represent the North Shore.”
He said Parks Canada has a “comprehensive fire program that includes fire hoses around the park, fire trailers, and fire teams ready to roll.”
“That being said, we have agreed to consult with the province when it is indicated that one or the other has gone into a fire-ban situation,” said Rendell.
Arnold retorted that Parks Canada has its fire equipment at Dalvay or at staff homes and is not as fast to respond as local fire departments much closer to Cavendish.
“We heard that argument and honestly, with due respect, we reject that as being something that is better for the safety of our lives and our homes.”