Canning firefighters have concerns about use of closed Cape Split trail

Local restaurant says 40 per cent drop in business since trail closed

John Decoste
Published on July 16, 2014

Trees knocked down by Arthur in the parking lot at the Cape Split trail head. -Submitted

It’s the height of the summer tourist season, but the Cape Split trail - one of Kings County’s top tourist destinations - remains closed due to damage from post-tropical storm Arthur.

That doesn’t mean, though, that people aren’t ignoring the barriers and warning signs and using the trail anyway, which is a concern for Canning firefighters.

Canning deputy fire chief Jeff Skaling said July 16 his department is aware people are continuing to use the trail, despite the barricades and warning signs erected by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announcing the closure of the trail.

At times since the closure, Skaling said, anywhere from five or six to 15-20 vehicles have been observed in the parking lot at the entrance to the trail.

Skaling wasn’t able to comment on the safety of the trail, not knowing first-hand the full extent of the damage. However, DNR deemed it necessary to close the trail to hikers due to the damage and liability issues involved.

Skaling said the Canning department does have concerns as the first responders for that area about being able to reach the scene of an emergency and the potentially longer response time involved in doing so due to the storm damage.

“It’s a long trail system, and it would take a long time to get out there if someone did get into trouble,” he said. “We’ll be hopeful people are cautious if they choose to ignore the signs and barricades.”


Plan needed: Lohr

Kings North MLA John Lohr called on the provincial government July 16 to release its plan for dealing with the damage and clean-up at Cape Split.

Lohr said the Fundy area was among the hardest-hit by Arthur. Most provincial parks, including Blomidon, were closed temporarily; by July 16, most had re-opened, with the exception of Cape Split.

“This is the height of the tourism season for operators in this area,” Lohr said in a media release. “They need a little more information than ‘closed indefinitely’, which is not acceptable.”

He was asking the government “to release a plan, complete with timelines, so tourism operators can adjust their plans accordingly.”

Lohr also said tourism operators in our area were without power for over a week, in some cases, suffering losses from food spoilage and cancelled reservations.


Tourism numbers dropping

The Haze restaurant and convenience store in Scott’s Bay was forced to close for four days during the power outage that followed Arthur. According to manager Natalie Aalders, dealing with that, plus the on-going closure of the trail, has been a challenge.

Speaking July 16, Aalders estimated the business had seen “a drop-off of about 40 per cent” since the trail has been closed.

“As a new business, it’s been difficult for us,” she said, not to mention the loss of $2,000 worth of food due to the power outage.

The restaurant and convenience store, which only opened this spring, “took off really fast,” she said, and has been “more successful than we could have dreamed.”

Unfortunately, she said, that has made the drop-off in business that much harder to take.

Aalders added that Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison had dropped in for a meeting about the issue during a July 16 visit to Scott’s Bay.

Scott's Bay wharf under restrictions

Arthur also heavily damaged the Scott's Bay wharf, washing away the middle section. 

Government officials were at the scene to check on the wharf earlier this week. A spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said that staff inspected the wharf and implemented safety precautions, including restricting all access to the wharf. The department is currently looking at other options for delivering services for commercial fishing vessel use in the Scott's Bay harbour.