Dangerous debris, including rusty rebar, worry residents near public beach

A group of residents in Cape Traverse wants what it calls dangerous debris, including rusty rebar sticking up from concrete blocks, removed from the community beach.

Concrete blocks, placed on the beach in the late '90s, now worn down

Aaron Reimer holds a piece of rusty rebar that he picked up on the community beach in Cape Traverse, P.E.I. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

A group of residents in Cape Traverse wants what it calls dangerous debris removed from the community beach.

According to residents, the concrete was placed on the beach in the late '90s by a community group that has since disbanded, with the intention of using it for shoreline protection.

"What's happened since then is we've got a whole bunch of large, heavy, tumbled concrete blocks full of exposed rebar that are just sticking out everywhere," said Aaron Reimer, who has lived in Cape Traverse for just over two years. 

"They're a bit of an eyesore and they're dangerous for the kids."

Reimer has an 11-year-old and a five-year-old and worries when they play on the beach.

He said the fact the rebar is exposed from the concrete makes him even more nervous about community children playing on the beach.

The rusty rebar sticks out at odd angles from the worn down concrete blocks. (Robyn Walsh MacKay)

Looking for ideas

The Cape Traverse Ice Boat Crew — which Reimer is a part of — is a non-profit group that organized a few years ago to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the last ice boat crossing.

They've worked on other community projects since then and are now organizing a public meeting as the first step toward finding a way to clean up the beach.

"There's a lot of things that people have proposed, everything from having them picked up and repositioned, to just having someone come take them away and restore the beach to its natural condition," Reimer said.

Reimer holds a piece of rebar sticking out of one of the concrete blocks on the beach at Cape Traverse. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Cape Traverse is not incorporated and Reimer said that's one of the reasons why it has taken so long to do something about the state of the beach.

"This has been here for so long and this has been here as, if not community property —who knows whose property— whose job is it to take care of this, whose liability is it if somebody gets hurt," Reimer said.

"Not knowing that for sure, not having that legal basis, I think has paralyzed people for a lot of years and moving forward to address an issue that we've known needs to be addressed for a long time."

The beach looks out over Confederation Bridge crossing Northumberland Strait. (Randy McAndrew/CBC)

The Ice Boat Crew doesn't have funds itself to do the cleanup but thinks there are solutions.

"I know that there are people that are concerned enough to donate," Reimer said.

"I know that there are people that would be happy to remove those blocks because they can use them for filler material somewhere else."

Environmental impact

The group has been in touch with environmental officers from the P.E.I. government, asking them to have a look at the blocks on the beach.

Reimer said they have told the group that the concrete blocks are neither preventing or furthering erosion.

Residents say the concrete blocks were placed on the beach to combat erosion during some time in the '90s. (Robyn Walsh MacKay)

Reimer said they are planning to have a vote at the community meeting.

"Hopefully from there we can at least get a group of people that's empowered to move ahead with the will of the community on this," Reimer said.

Reimer said, if there is consensus about cleaning up the beach, the hope is that it could happen quickly, during the off-season when there are fewer visitors and it's easier on the environment.

The community is considering options on how the dangerous blocks could be removed from the beach. (Robyn Walsh MacKay)

Borden-Kinkora MLA Jamie Fox will be attending the public meeting and said he's willing to work with the community on a path forward, including an application to the department of rural development, which he is responsible for.

"I think there's a safety concern there, there's an environmental concern and of course we must make sure that everybody is looked at," Fox said. 

"But I think it's something that has to be addressed for the future."

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Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog.


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