Popular beach getting parking lot

Blooming Point, one of the most popular beaches on P.E.I.'s North Shore, is getting a parking lot.
The beach can be crowded in summer. ((CBC))

The province says it will pay for a parking lot at Blooming Point.  It's one of the most popular beaches on P.E.I.'s North Shore.

The popularity of the beach has led to safety concerns. There is no parking area, so on a sunny summer day vehicles can be parked for long distances along both sides of the narrow clay road and in the turning circle at the end of the road.

There is little room for parking at the end of the long, clay road. ((CBC))

"An emergency vehicle would never be able to get down here," local MLA Buck Watts told CBC News Tuesday.

It's been a problem for decades. Watts said there have been several close calls, and some drownings at the beach.

"I'm not saying that if vehicles would have been able to get through they wouldn't have drowned, but accidents do happen, and especially with the amount of people that's down here," said Watts.

The solution the community has come up with is to create a parking lot, several hundred metres away from the beach, in what used to be a farmer's field.

"It's going to be, from what I understand, a good sized parking lot: in excess of 200 vehicles, two to three hundred with room for expansion," said Watts.

The idea has been discussed for years, but there were concerns about the environmental impact.

MLA Buck Watts says the parking lot will make the beach safer. ((CBC))

Environmental groups, the Island Nature Trust and a local group called the Tracadie Area Residents for Resource Protection, have been working with the province on the project. They've also suggested the parking area should be shale, instead of asphalt, which will be more environmentally friendly.  The groups said they will watch for potential environmental damage during construction.

Of particular concern is a nearby creek, which could fill with silt.

"Everybody fishes here, and it feeds Blooming Point Pond," said Billy Fisher, who has fished the creek for more than 30 years.

"You spoil this, you get no fish in Blooming Point Pond again."

The province will have to put in a buffer zone to protect the creek. There will be an environmental assessment before the project proceeds.

Although the parking lot will ensure emergency vehicles will have better access to the site, Watts said the province has no plans to put lifeguards on the beach, because despite the parking lot, the area is not a provincial park.

The project is expected to begin in a couple of months.