New Brunswick

Fundy Trail Parkway sees record attendance on opening weekend

Record-breaking crowds saw lineups of up to two hours at the Fundy Trail Parkway on the first weekend it reopened for the summer season.

'We're thrilled, it's a great start to the season,' says official

Large crowds lined up to enter the Fundy Trail Parkway on Sunday. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Record-breaking crowds saw lineups of up to two hours at the Fundy Trail Parkway on the first weekend it reopened for the summer season.

On Sunday, people in more than 2,000 vehicles took advantage of the New Brunswick government's opening of parks and trails late last week and joined the lineup, which at times was more than 100 cars deep.

Jeffery Reath and six members of his family were in that line of bumper-to-bumper traffic.

"If it wasn't for being locked in our house for the past nine, 10 weeks with little to do, I'm not sure if we would have said 'Hey, let's everybody go.'"

The parkway stretches along 30 kilometres of Bay of Fundy coastline, with the western entry point at St. Martins and another newly opened eastern access point at Sussex Corner.

Jeffrey Reath and six members of his family happily waited two hours to enter the Fundy Trail Parkway for the first time this year. (Submitted by Jeffrey Reath)

Reath said he had no idea it would be two hours before he and his family would be able to unload their bikes and go for a ride, but he said no one seemed to mind.

"Nobody was honking, there was nobody standing outside their cars and trying to see into the distance and storming up and down the highway."

After months of restricted movements because of COVID-19, Reath said he as his family were happy to be out of the house.

"I don't think anybody looks a gift horse in the mouth, it was something to do," he said.

Reath said they enjoyed their visit so much that they bought a season's pass.

Greg Turner, president of the Fundy Trail Parkway Development Authority, said a record-breaking day on opening weekend is 'wonderful.' (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Greg Turner, president of the Fundy Trail Parkway Development Authority, said Sunday was a record-breaking day with more vehicles through the gates than ever before.

"We're thrilled, it's a great start to the season," said Turner.

He said staff only had about three weeks to prepare for opening day and the new restrictions that come with reopening after a pandemic.

"They were run off their feet from one end to the other, there's no two ways about it," he said.

The Fundy Trail Parkway runs along 30 kilometres of the Bay of Fundy and has beach access, hiking and biking trails, waterfalls and outlooks. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Turner said some trails were closed because they are too narrow to allow for the required two metres of physical distancing. Other trails will be one-way for the foreseeable future and staff are spending more time cleaning washrooms and disinfecting things like debit machines and railings.

The long lineup was an obvious hiccup, but Turner said as people become more familiar with the new Sussex corner access, lineups at the St. Martins entry will most likely grow smaller.

"We were one of the few parks that are open in the province at this time," he said.

Oak Bay Provincial Park opened last Thursday, and several more will follow on Friday, including Mactaquac and New River Beach.

Several others will open later in the month or in June, many with reduced services.

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