Parks Canada in P.E.I. preparing for a busy season

With free park passes this year, visitor numbers expected to be high, so Parks Canada adding extra beach patrols to protect enviornment and species.

'We're definitely going to have an influx of visitors this year'

'We are preparing to add additional protection to our sensitive ecosystems,' says P.E.I. National Park's Canada's Kerry-Lynn Atkinson. (Laura Meader/CBC)

P.E.I. National Park has hired more staff to ensure sensitive natural areas and species are protected during what is predicted to be a very busy summer.

A big birthday celebration for Canada including free passes into national parks is expected to bring in bigger-than-average crowds, officials say.

"We are preparing to add additional protection to our sensitive ecosystems," said Kerry-Lynn Atkinson, a resource management officer with P.E.I. National Park. "We're definitely going to have an influx of visitors this year."

Atkinson couldn't provide the exact number of staff but said more have been hired, and they'll be starting earlier in the season than usual. 

"There will be more staff on the beach, more staff out there patrolling the roads," she said.

'We want to take advantage'

Margo and Peter Thomas were visiting from Victoria, B.C. and got a free park pass in advance. 

Peter and Margo Thomas from British Columbia bundled up to hit the P.E.I. beach Tuesday. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Even though it's chilly in P.E.I. in April, they planned to walk the North Shore beach and check out a local trail.

"It's beautiful… beautiful surf," said Peter Thomas. 

"We want to take advantage of the parks," said Margo Thomas. 

"It's preserved, cared for and looked after, for generations to come, I think that's important," she added. 

Dog ban part of enforcement

Dogs are banned on the national park beaches April 1 to Oct. 15 to protect wildlife including the endangered piping plover.

Signs banning dogs on P.E.I. national park beaches went up at the first of April. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Park staff gave out more fines last year than previous years, Atkinson said, but dogs on the beach are still an ongoing problem. 

"Right now we're seeing evidence of it daily."

'Really good year'

Atkinson said Park staff will use the busy season to educate more people about all aspects of the Park.

The Canada 150 Discovery passes are free, so visitors won't pay this year to get in to P.E.I. National Park. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"I'm really excited about it, I think we have a great opportunity to educate people about this beautiful park," said Atkinson.

"We are providing the protection that we need, and I think it's going to be a really good year." 


Laura Meader is a video journalist for CBC P.E.I.