A P.E.I. tour company that brings Japanese visitors to take photos of the lighthouse in New London, P.E.I., was surprised last week to see half a dozen "no parking" signs lining the road — it's calling for a designated public parking area near the lighthouse.
'There's no intent to restrict access to the beach down there.' — Stepehn Yeo, P.E.I. Department of Transportation
"We have been visiting this lighthouse since we started this company in 2001," said Katsue Masuda of P.E.I. Select Tours.
"This lighthouse is advertised on the guide book, a location for the movies, Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea, and also Looking for Anne."
'They love it'
For years, P.E.I. Select Tours has driven its passenger van to the path leading to the beach, where visitors walk a short distance, take photos of the lighthouse and get back in the van.
"A lot of Japanese tourists want to come and see it and just take pictures," said Masuda. "People love to take pictures, specially nice beach, nice red clay, they love it."
The group is usually there for 10 to 15 minutes and is always careful not to block any of the residents, said Masuda.
"We try not to be in their way," she said.
The first sign of trouble was a couple of weeks ago when a sign appeared declaring the road to the beach a private road for pedestrian traffic only, stating "unauthorized vehicles will be towed away at owner's expense".
The owner of the tour company called the RCMP to inquire, and the sign was gone the next time the group visited.
Then, a few weeks later, Masuda got a call from one of the company's drivers, who said half a dozen "no parking" signs were now posted in the area — official signs from the P.E.I. Department of Transportation.
'Concerns about safety'
"Last week I got a phone call from a local resident out there that had concerns about safety," explained Stephen Yeo from the department.
"I went down and looked at the area and could see that there could be a concern with the movement of traffic down there or emergency vehicles."
The residents showed Yeo photos from last summer in which buses and other vehicles were parked at the path to the beach.
"That's when we made the decision to install some signs," Yeo explained.
Visitors sometimes walk across property on their way to the lighthouse, residents said, and vehicles have blocked their driveways.
Anyone who wants to visit the beach or the lighthouse still has the option of parking along the paved road, a short walk away, Yeo said.
"They can park on the side of the road, there's pretty good shoulders," said Yeo. "We felt that was a safer area to park to get access down to the beach."
For Katsue Masuda, the signs are an issue.
"It is hard to see so many no parking signs, we don't know what to do."
For now, Masuda has directed the drivers to park outside the no parking zone.
But the real answer is a designated public parking area, she believes, especially once the tourism season ramps up in July and August.
"There is a beach here too, a beautiful beach, and it's not only our tourists but a lot of people come to swim here," she said. "So there should be nice public parking here."
Masuda plans to approach the Department of Transportation and Tourism PEI about creating a parking area.
"If Tourism PEI is advertising this lighthouse, using this lighthouse in their guide book or poster or promotion, it should have some designated parking spots," said Masuda.
Yeo said he's willing to listen.
"There's no intent to restrict access to the beach down there," said Yeo.
"If they would contact me, we could certainly have a discussion about that and see if there's an area down there that we could utilize for bus parking or a bus turnaround. We'd certainly be open to that."
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