Trucks drive along the future site of a rail line near Tin Can Beach

A truck drives along the future site of a rail line near Tin Can Beach (Connell Smith/CBC) (Connell Smith/CBC)

A Saint John city councillor says he is confident people in the central peninsula will continue to have a main route to Tin Can Beach, even though construction of a new rail line is threatening to close off access.

On Monday, CN Rail revealed it is putting in a new track between the potash terminal and the former sugar refinery property.

When the line becomes operational, the public will not be allowed to cross the train track to access the beach, said Jim Feeny, director of public and government affairs for CN.

The stretch of shoreline on the south end waterfront has long been an area open for dog-walking and exploring.

Coun. Gerry Lowe has been following the work on the rail line, and spoke with Mayor Mel Norton on Monday after the expansion plans were explained to CBC News.

He said the mayor is confident he found a way for people to still get to the beach.

"The mayor will find a way around it, because he knows the importance of the beach to the residents of the south end, and the amount of people who go there every day just to sit there and have lunch," said Lowe.

"There is a way around to get to Tin Can Beach, and it's through city property. And I'm sure the mayor will have access to Tin Can Beach one way or the other."

The new line replaces an old railway track that had been partially removed. It had been out of service for well over a decade.

Besides the track, the only potential access point to the beach is through the city-owned former Lantic Sugar refinery property, which is officially closed.

However, Lowe said meetings were held on Monday to make sure the beach is still accessible to the public.

"The mayor last night, we chatted with the mayor and Chris Dever, his executive assistant who has talked to CN — you can go through the sugar refinery property. It's only a case of taking an old fence down that's half down, or three-quarters down now," Lowe said.

"If the tracks stopped where they are today, then you could get access to the beach … It's a problem, but I think it's a problem that's going to be worked out."

Late Monday morning, on Twitter, the Saint John mayor said it was the first he had heard about a restriction on access to Tin Can Beach. Norton said quality of life and industry are not mutually exclusive, and he planned to look into the issue.