Monday, 30 Mar 2020

Parlee Beach hopes Blue Flag designation restores confidence in water quality

The mayor of Shediac, N.B. says he hopes a Blue Flag designation for Parlee Beach will help people regain confidence following years of water quality concerns.

The Blue Flag, an international eco-certification administered by Environmental Defence, will also fly at Shediac Bay Yacht Club and, for a second consecutive year, at Aboiteau Beach in Cap-Pelé.

It’s awarded to beaches and marinas that meet strict criteria for water quality, environmental management, safety and services, along with environmental education, according to Kelsey Scarfone, the water programs manager for Environmental Defence.

“Essentially, [beaches] need to be meeting at least 80 per cent compliance or more for the season with the Canadian recreational water guidelines,” she said in a Skype interview.

“For folks that have concerns about the water quality, between this recognition and the results of the testing in the last couple of years,” says Shediac Mayor Roger Caissie, “where they take 10 water samples per day, shows that basically the water quality is good the vast majority of the time.”

They also need to do water testing at least once a week, she said, something Parlee Beach does daily at five locations at the beach.

Roger Caissie, Shediac’s mayor, says he hopes the Blue Flag designation will allow people to regain confidence in the beach

Bill Ross, a Pointe-du-Chêne resident and member of the Red Dot Association, says the designation came too soon.

“I think it’s a bit premature given the water quality issues at Parlee Beach for the length of time that they’ve existed,” he says. “We’re all really wishing that those issues are behind us now with the new sewer piping arrangement, but we don’t know that yet.”

David Coon, the leader of the province’s Green Party, says the designation is good news because it shows things are turning around in terms of environmental concerns.

“We’ve got to maintain the momentum in eliminating all sources of pollution into the area, and finally looking at this area more comprehensively in terms of its development because there’s a lot of development pressures,” he told reporters outside the legislature. “And the more development pressures there are, the more additional pollution that’s going to go into the system.”

Robert Gauvin, the province’s tourism, culture and heritage minister, says more information about measures at Parlee Beach will be announced soon.

“The people that frequent Parlee Beach can be very secure because the work has been done in years past, but we have some new things that we added this year that I will announce in the coming weeks that show the steps we took ahead to prepare because we don’t want to take any chances,” said Gauvin.

Ross, meanwhile, says the beach closures last year had a negative impact on businesses and cottage rentals in the area.

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