New Brunswick

Visitor numbers down at Parlee Beach

The Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture has released numbers showing a decline in both campground visitors and daytime visitors.

Parlee Beach issued multiple no-swimming advisories this summer

The beach has had new water-monitoring protocols in place since April. (CBC)

Parlee Beach, a popular N.B. tourist destination for decades, saw a drop in the number of visitors this season.

Water quality at the beach came under scrutiny after a CBC News investigation determined the water was unsafe for swimming on many days in 2016.

New figures released by the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture show fewer people stayed at the campground and visited the beach this past summer compared to the same period last year. The number of vehicle entrance permits sold decreased from 23,569 to 17,110.

Also, the number of people staying at Parlee's campground between June and August decreased from 11,042 in 2016 to 10,649 in 2017.

New signs implemented this year clearly indicate whether the water is suitable for swimming at Parlee Beach. (CBC)

Valerie Kilfoil, communications director for the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, said despite the dip in the number of overnight campers, the beach reported the second highest number of campers in the past seven years.

"The number of site nights sold has grown steadily from just under 8,000 since the province took over ownership of the campground in 2011," she said in an email statement.

Ongoing water quality issues

The provincial Liberal government introduced new water-monitoring protocols for the beach in April.

In her statement, Kilfoil said testing showed bacteria levels high enough to lead to no-swimming advisories on six days this season.

"In addition, a total of nine no-swim advisories were issued pre-emptively due to rainfall exceeding 10 mm in a 24 hour period."

Kilfoil said, of those nine, "test results showed that only three days showed elevated bacteria." 

That means, out of 106 swimming days, nine days had elevated bacterial levels.

According to a government website, no-swimming advisories mean "the bacterial levels found in the water exceed the guidelines values established in the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality." No-swimming advisories do not mean the beach is closed.  

The only time a beach would ever be closed under the Canadian Recreational Water Quality Guidelines is due to an oil or toxic spill, said Kilfoil.

Parlee Beach closes for the season Sept. 5.

About the Author

Nathalie Sturgeon is a reporter for CBC New Brunswick based in Fredericton. She is a recent graduate from the journalism program at St. Thomas University. She is from Blackville.

With files from Olivia Chandler