PEI

Basin Head barrier is not permanent, says tourism minister

This year some Islanders were surprised to see a barrier to jumping from the wharf at Basin Head — a six foot barrier to be exact.

'It was just too shallow'

Workers put up this two-metre-high barrier at Basin Head wharf. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Summer days are just around the corner on P.E.I. and for years Islanders and tourists have flocked to the famous singing sands in Basin Head Provincial Park near Souris to leap in the water from the wharf and bridge.

This week some Islanders were surprised to see a barrier at the Basin Head wharf — a two-metre (six foot) barrier to be exact.

Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay told CBC Radio: Island Morning host Mitch Cormier the fence won't be sticking around for the summer.

"We sent a diver out there a couple days ago to do his annual inspection of the depth of the water and the water levels have dropped significantly."

Social media users voiced their displeasure with the government's lack of consulting or notifying the public before the barrier was put up.

Had to act quickly

But MacKay said his department had to act quickly.

The province has put up signs to warn of shallow water at the Basin Head wharf. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The channel became shallow after a major storm caused it to fill with sand over the winter months, according to a news release from the province.

During low tide the water is less than a metre deep — about two feet — and there were worries someone could get hurt if they decided to jump in, MacKay said.

The high water was measured at about 2.5 metres, making the channel half the depth it typically would be, the release said.

We just can't afford to have that closed for the summer.— Matthew MacKay

"It was just too shallow, so we said we have to do something with this right away before the season started," he said.

MacKay said the fence will be removed once the run is dredged, and the province is making it a priority to have it out of the way by the time tourists start to arrive.

"We've got every department working on it right now. I know DFO is doing whatever they can to do it."

'Do what we can'

MacKay said the province should have made the public aware of the work.

Crews say the gate blocking access to the bridge had to rebuilt after someone tore it down Wednesday night. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"The only thing that should have happened yesterday that obviously didn't was a sign should've went up with it explaining what took place. Which I'm guessing they're coming today."

MacKay said the whole situation happened quickly in just 24 hours and the department didn't have time to alert the public. 

"We just can't afford to have that closed for the summer — we're going to do what we can to get it back open." 

The fencing is being erected at the pier and new signs will be installed by the end of this week to warn Islanders about the extreme danger, according to the release.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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