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Unauthorized boardwalk removal

PAB plans to repurpose materials damaged by Hurricane Fiona

Wooden sections of the elevated boardwalk that used to line Grand Bay West beach are currently stored next to the beach’s parking lot. — © Rosalyn Roy / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter PORT AUX BASQUES — On Monday, Jan. 8 the Town of Channel-Port Aux Basques posted a reminder on their Facebook page for residents, advising them that the material from the former boardwalk on Grand Bay West Beach was not to be removed, and anyone found taking these materials risked facing criminal charges. The elevated boardwalk that skirted the Grand Bay West beach was ripped apart by Hurricane Fiona in Sept. 2022, and has been placed near the parking lot while the town decides what to do with it. Town Manager Nadine Osmondsaid the unauthorized removal of materials is not a new occurrence. “It has been brought to our attention a couple times now recently as of the last few weeks, because this might be the second time I posted something on Facebook. I might have posted something a few months ago,” said Osmond. “People are going up and taking from the pile that we have there that’s kind of at the beach entrance. They also might be taking stuff from the trail out around the coastline and over towards the red barn.” The materials were left in the area while awaiting assessment to see if anything could be reused for the Town’s purposes, and removing those materials would undoubtedly carry an additional cost for the upcoming projects. “If it’s not re-used directly for more boardwalk, it could be used for something else. It’s just that we haven’t had the chance to go up and assess everything to see if it could be re-used. But it was not announced that anybody could go up and take whatever they wanted. It was there for us to maybe do something with it, from what I’m hearing. Because I haven’t seen anybody take any, but I know that councillors have gotten phone calls and we’ve received a couple of phone calls down here as well, and we wanted it left there so that we could figure out if there is a use for it,” explained Osmond. “We are going to put up a couple of signs to say please do not take this material. Some of it may not have a use if it has some rot happening inside or whatever, but the town hasn’t gone through all of it.” Other issues took precedence, especially considering that municipal teams are still dealing with numerous issues in the aftermath of Fiona. “We’ve been tied up with a lot of water-sewer infrastructure, that’s what I’m thinking. Now, I was in a former role (Town Clerk). I didn’t have a lot of play into that when that came up. Just until the last couple of weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the water-sewer infrastructure and outfalls around town, and of course, we had the first few months of the year, we were still dealing with demolitions. I mean, demolitions were happening, I think, the last part of the demolitions probably happened in June,” said Osmond. “We wouldn’t have the room over at the depot area or the other building that we have on Morris (for storage), so it’s been stored there just because there’s space there.” The town is asking residents to leave the materials where they are and to stop removing them. “Please refrain from taking materials that are there, because we do have to assess it and see if it’s usable, and we’re at a stage now that we can probably start looking at doing the repairs for the Grand Bay West Trail. We’ve gone through the assessment stage, and we had the report prepared,” said Osmond. “We’ve got a meeting tomorrow, actually, to start talking about the Grand Bay West Trail, because we do have a couple of funding sources. There’s a couple of people that, a couple of organizations that have contacted us that came out of the Fiona donations, like the Rotary Club system throughout the province. They’ve approached us because they usually like to work on projects. So they may be a source to work with us to help rebuild that trail. The town also, as you know, was published earlier, got some of the funds from the donations that came in from people, and that is going to be dedicated to rebuilding the Grand Bay West Trail. So I guess in our meeting tomorrow, we may start looking at what sections can probably be built first and look at the funding that we can either apply for or that might be in the works to help us do that.” The presentation regarding updates on the Grand Bay West Trail took place back in November, and plans were discussed when it came to re-designing of the trail. The new version of the trail included four distinct zones, Zone A, which begins at Christopher’s Path, Zone B, the Hopedale Avenue Hub, Zone C, ‘The Neck’, and Zone D, ‘The Connector’, all coming together with better paths, better amenities, and at a safer distance from the shoreline to avoid similar damages in case another storm like Fiona comes to the Southwest Coast. Where the project will begin will remain unknown for a while longer, at least until those conversations are held. “I don’t think we established a start point for the trail. Some of it may be just being still starting a bit of cleanup and a bit of maybe restructuring the land a little bit first before the actual boardwalks go back in place,” said Osmond. “They’ll have to be in a different location now, though, definitely, because that was part of the presentation, that the trail system is all moved inland a little bit further away from the shoreline.”

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