Parks Canada is spending $1 million to completely redo the boardwalk leading to Cavendish Beach, a project that will make the shore fully accessible.
It will also enhance safety for beachgoers and further protect the dunes.
“This particular project is to replace the dune crossing,’’ said Tara McNally-MacPhee, visitor experience manager with the P.E.I. National Park. “If you’ve been to Cavendish (Beach) before, you’ll have seen that the sand really blows in ... and creates a bit of a safety hazard. It’s narrow and, most significantly, (the beach) is not accessible (for people in wheelchairs).’’
So, the new dune crossing is being re-routed with the new boardwalk being constructed to the left of what was originally there. It’s also a bit lower to the ground and longer.
“But, that allows us, in that particular location to get the right slope to have full accessibility there.’’
The old boardwalk had reached the end of its life cycle and led to a staircase down to the beach. That created the accessibility problems.
“Anybody who needed a walker or use of a wheelchair couldn’t get down onto the beach. In this case, we’ve got a ramp system that will take people right down to the beach and we’ll also have the accessibility mats and beach wheelchairs there so folks can use those when they come as well.’’
The location and design of the new beach boardwalk were done in conjunction with engineers and geomorphologists, who advised Parks Canada on where to locate it so it wouldn’t be as exposed to the wind and wouldn’t be as susceptible to sand drifting while still protecting the dune system underneath.
“They’ve advised us in how the sand is moving and shifting and what the wind patterns look like and that’s why we were getting all that sand buildup (in the past) on the stairs. We’re hoping that this (new boardwalk) will address some of that.’’
Due to the ongoing work, the beach facility is closed to the public. The road to Cavendish Beach has been barricaded just past the Cavendish Campground’s entrance. Those wishing to visit the beach in the Cavendish area can use the access point located in the campground next to site 54. Follow the paved road in the campground until the gravel parking lot on the left-hand side.
McNally-MacPhee said the beach facility will re-open on May 19 with the project fully completed before July 1.
She noted that construction crews are taking special precautions not to harm the dune system where work is taking place. Vegetation mats are being placed on top of the dunes to prevent any damage.
“We’ve really focused on environmental protection and accessibility and this is just a really great opportunity for us to show folks and invite folks to come and see what we’ve done and really experience that, especially people who haven’t had an opportunity to get down to the beach in that area before.’’