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Parks Canada imposes tighter restrictions on access to P.E.I. National Park

This picture taken Sunday at the Covehead Lighthouse, adjacent to Covehead Harbour in the P.E.I. National Park, shows cars parked on the Gulfshore Parkway East. A no-parking regulation, which was announced on Friday, prohibits parking in the P.E.I. National Park, including along highways and roads, as well as in parking lots.
This picture taken Sunday at the Covehead Lighthouse, adjacent to Covehead Harbour in the P.E.I. National Park, shows cars parked on the Gulfshore Parkway East. A no-parking regulation, which was announced on Friday, prohibits parking in the P.E.I. National Park, including along highways and roads, as well as in parking lots. - Contributed


The P.E.I. National Park is imposing tighter restrictions on the North Shore because visitors haven’t been following the rules.

Parks Canada announced last Friday parking anywhere on the North Shore was not permitted, a move designed to limit visitation in light of the ongoing corona virus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic. However, people not only ignored the prohibition, they came in large numbers.

Ed Jager, director of visitor experience for Parks Canada, said this past weekend, many Islanders visited the National Park, some of whom were in groups, disregarding parking restrictions and not following social distancing guidelines set out by Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer.

Last Friday, Parks Canada also announced it was closing the following roads until further notice — Wild Rose Road in Greenwich, Dalvay Crescent in Dalvay, Terre Rouge Lane in Oceanview and Grahams Lane from the entrance kiosks to the Cavendish Beach parking lots in Cavendish.


NEED TO KNOW

Following roads are closed in the P.E.I. National Park until further notice:

  • Wild Rose Road, Greenwich
  • Dalvay Crescent, Dalvay
  • Terre Rouge Lane, Oceanview
  • Grahams Lane from the entrance kiosk to the Cavendish Beach parking lots, Cavendish

This picture taken Sunday at the Covehead Lighthouse, adjacent to Covehead Harbour in the P.E.I. National Park, shows cars parked on the Gulfshore Parkway East. A no-parking regulation, which was announced on Friday, prohibits parking in the P.E.I. National Park, including along highways and roads, as well as in parking lots. - CONTRIBUTED
This picture taken Sunday at the Covehead Lighthouse, adjacent to Covehead Harbour in the P.E.I. National Park, shows cars parked on the Gulfshore Parkway East. A no-parking regulation, which was announced on Friday, prohibits parking in the P.E.I. National Park, including along highways and roads, as well as in parking lots. - CONTRIBUTED

Now, Parks Canada is imposing further restrictions. The following will take effect on Thursday at 8 a.m.

Gulf Shore Parkway East will be closed to vehicle access in two sections — between the Brackley gate and Covehead Harbour (Brackley-Covehead) and between Winter Road and Ross Lane Beach (Dalvay-Ross Lane). Gulf Shore Parkway West will also be closed to vehicle access between Cawnpore Lane and Cape Turner in Cavendish.

During these temporary closures, access to the Covehead wharf will be maintained for local fishermen.

“We’re announcing these additional road closures really in response to what we saw happen over the weekend; to help people respect those physical distancing measures and to make it less possible for those large gatherings to occur,’’ Jager said in a telephone interview from his office in Gatineau, Que.

Jager said these measures are also designed to keep employees with Parks Canada safe.

He added that Parks Canada understands that many people have a special connection to the parks and, as the weather continues to improve, people will be more apt to visit. But the restrictions are put in place for peoples’ own good.

“We would really like everyone to just do their part to limit the spread (of COVID-19).’’


ROAD CLOSURES

  • The following roads in the P.E.I. National Park will be closed until further notice, effective Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 8 a.m.:
  • Gulf Shore Parkway East will be closed to vehicle access in two sections – between Brackley gate and Covehead Harbour (Brackley-Covehead) and between Winter Road and Ross Lane Beach (Dalvay-Ross Lane)
  • Gulf Shore Parkway West will be closed to vehicle access between Cawnpore Lane and Cape Turner, Cavendish.
  • Parking is now prohibited anywhere in the P.E.I. National Park, including along highway and roads

This isn’t a P.E.I.-only problem.

Parks Canada has implemented restrictions around vehicle access in National Parks across the country, closing many parking lots. Jager added there have been instances across Canada where they’ve had to implement further restrictions because people aren’t following physical distancing guidelines.

The P.E.I. National Park typically opens on the Victoria Day weekend in May, but Jager said it’s impossible to speculate this far out whether the park will open on time.

“All Canadians are in a situation where there is uncertainty, and we really do need to respect the advice and guidance we’re getting from public health experts,’’ Jager said. “I hope your readers understand Parks Canada staff really do care about these places and we are really trying to make the best decisions for Islanders. It’s in our DNA to help people want to experience these places, (but) it’s just not the right thing to do right now.’’

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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