Extremely dangerous currents have prompted a swimming ban for the 2020 summer season at Cabot Beach Provincial Park.
Matthew Smith, provincial lifeguard co-ordinator, said that over the last number of years, the boat channel from nearby Malpeque Harbour has encroached towards the beach.
Smith said there are several reasons for that, including recent weather events, the currents running in that area, as well as shifting sand bars. The area has also been dredged.
“The best line that the dredge company was capable of getting this year happened to be in very, very close proximity to the water’s edge,” Smith said.
“Unfortunately, as a result, due to that, it is no longer safe to be in the water there due to how close the boat channel is to the water’s edge.”
Smith said with the way the sand has shifted over the last year or so, there is a very safe shallow body of water, but there is a sudden drop off whenever swimmers reach the boat channel.
“It does present a danger to beach-goers because it cannot always be apparent and is quite dangerous,” stressed Smith.
The beach and park will remain open for the summer and will be staffed by lifeguards. Smith encouraged the public to engage with lifeguards.
“When people are in or around water, they should always be going somewhere where a lifeguard is going to be and checking in to see some of the unique features about that park so everybody can stay safe enjoying the beautiful beaches of our Island,” said Smith.
Smith said pre-season inspections brought the potential hazard to light. He added possible solutions on managing swimming at Cabot was worked on throughout the spring, but, in the end, officials felt the best decision was to prohibit swimming altogether.
He said a team approach is going to be required for swimming to be reinstated at Cabot Beach Provincial Park.
“We are definitely going to be collaborating with our colleagues in the harbour and throughout different levels of the provincial and federal governments to be able to come to a long-term solution as to how we can maintain that beach to be a safe swimming beach, but also ensure the fishermen out of the Malpque Harbour are capable of continuing with their careers,” said Smith.