Visitors will notice some changes and improvements beginning next year at two Parks Canada sites on P.E.I.
The federal government is investing $1.76 million in restoration work at the P.E.I. National Park, including the Cavendish Campground and Green Gables Heritage Place, following damage caused by post-tropical storm Dorian last September. Malpeque MP Wayne Easter announced the funding at a media conference at the P.E.I. National Park in Cavendish on Wednesday morning.
Easter said the restoration of the campground, which is loved by generations of users, will mean a big boost for the tourism industry on P.E.I.
“It is such a wonderful area," said Easter. "You are out in nature, you have the white sand beach and also you have tourism resources around with the businesses in the community.
"It’s a great announcement for tourism on P.E.I., and a great announcement for Parks Canada because it gives them the boost to support them to be able to do their work, contribute to the environment and contribute to the community the way we want to see Parks Canada do so.”
Planned work will revive the campground, trails and some of the roads impacted by Dorian. The Cavendish area, in particular, was hit hard, resulting in downed trees, disruption at some of the campsites and erosion along the coastline.
“The work that is going to happen will be to revitalize some of the sites that were impacted, rebuilding some of those,” said Tara McNally MacPhee, visitor experience manager for P.E.I. National Park. “We’ll be relocating some of the sites along the coast that are most at risk of the impacts of climate change and will be creating a new loop, so we are just relocating those sites.
“We have also done some rehabilitation work on the sites that were disrupted and will be doing some reforestation work to rebuild.”
- In a typical year, Prince Edward Island National Park has 750,000 person visits from across the Island, Canada and from around the world. Cavendish Campground hosts 55,000 visitors annually.
- Post-tropical storm Dorian made landfall on Prince Edward Island on Sept. 8, 2019.
- One of the known impacts of climate change on coastal locations such as P.E.I. is an increase in the rate of coastal erosion. Parks Canada continues to monitor rates of erosion over time.
- Early recovery efforts in P.E.I. National Park were supported by specialized Parks Canada team members from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.
- Parks Canada estimates more than 80 per cent of the trees in the Cavendish Campground area were destroyed or damaged and that two to four meters of coastline eroded during post-tropical storm Dorian.
- Cavendish Campground remained closed for the 2020 operational season due to damage caused by post-tropical storm Dorian. Many significant repair and clean-up activities to address the damage caused by the storm that were planned for spring 2020 were delayed due to COVID-19.
- The rehabilitation of affected areas is ongoing and will continue through calendar years 2020 and 2021. Cavendish Campground is expected to be open for camping in summer 2021.
Source: Parks Canada
Dealing with debris
McNally MacPhee said a lot of debris along the sides of the trails has been pushed back. Some of it will be removed and some of it will be left as it’s an important part of the ecological system. When the work is completed, she said visitors will see some work along the roads.
“In particular, at Robinson’s Island, where we had some coastal erosion, and at Green Gables historic site there will be some work happening on the trails,” said McNally MacPhee.
McNally MacPhee said the goal is to maintain the over 200 sites at the Cavendish Campground, which was closed this year. It is hoped work in the campground will be done so sites are ready to go in 2021. The new loop is expected to open in 2022.
“We have decided to go with a model where we are not putting more infrastructure into the ground because it does not allow us to be mobile and to adapt to climate change impacts,” said McNally MacPhee in explaining what the new loop will look like.
“We are going with unserviced sites over there, but we will have a washroom building that will support that. Our hope is that as we have to modify the camping offering the existing footprint, we have an area we can grow that is further away from those impacts like coastal erosion, flooding and that kind of thing.”
Visitors will also notice some sites along the coast have been decommissioned.
Julie Pellissier Lush, P.E.I.’s first Mi’kmaw poet laureate, participated in the ceremony. She blessed the land and sang a song.
“Whenever we have projects like this, we recognize we are on the unseeded territory of the Mi'kmaw people," said McNally MacPhee.
"As a part of that, it’s really important for us to make sure we are engaging with our partners through the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island and with our communities to ensure we are respecting their wishes and those considerations in our rebuilding efforts."