The initial outrage on social media over six foot high fencing blocking access to the bridge at Basin Head has turned into concerns for safety and remediation before the start of tourist season.
Last Tuesday the province’s move to install fencing on the eastern PEI iconic pier where thousands of people, both local and tourists flock every year to ‘do the run’, drew immediate backlash.
Government, however, was quick to explain the run had filled in with sand during a storm surge in November and the fencing was temporary.
The fencing blocks access to the jumping off point on the bridge.
According to a press release the precaution was taken as soon as results from a dive showed the depth of water in the run was 2-3 feet at low tide and no more than eight feet at high tide, only half of the normal depth.
The run is checked every year not only for depth, but to ensure it is free of debris.
Because Basin Head is both a provincial park and a federal marine protected area cooperation between the two departments needs to happen before any dredging in the run comes to fruition.
“Hopefully the powers that be will get the machines in there pronto,” Fred Cheverie, coordinator of the Souris and Area Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation, SAB said.
SAB was first made aware of the sand build up on May 3 when the tourism department contacted the group.
The watershed group is heavily involved with the marine protected area, offering an experiential tourism event, Beyond the Beach. This consists in part of a walk along the beach and finishes with a net pull in the lagoon to examine creatures living there. They also work hand in hand with DFO in experimenting with ways to protect the giant Irish moss that grows in the lagoon.
“They (DFO) are in favour and said the dredging would be good for the area as the lagoon would flush better,” Mr Cheverie said.
“We are very much in favour of that being addressed as soon as possible - we are fearful injuries may occur if it is left the way it is."
With tourist season right around the corner, the on-site fisheries museum scheduled to open this month and Beyond the Beach tours to begin mid June foot traffic in the area is going to pick up.
“We can’t emphasize enough how we have concern over safety, especially with (high school) graduations coming up,” Mr Cheverie said, noting the beach is a popular gathering spot for the teens' celebrations.
The Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy is leading the project and officials are working closely with DFO in regards to permits.
The province is optimistic work will be completed in time for the summer season.
"Basin Head is one of the world's best beaches and the channel is a big reason it has such a unique appeal with Islanders and visitors. Many local businesses benefit from those visitors. It is very important that we get the channel fixed as soon as possible," a spokesperson from Tourism Minister Matthew MacKay's office said.