Section of popular Whiteshell beach to remain closed this summer

After a difficult summer last year, some business owners in the Whiteshell are worried more challenges lay ahead as the province says a portion of a popular destination beach will remain closed.

It’s been nearly a year since the province put up fences blocking off Crescent Beach on West Hawk Lake. The province closed off a large portion of the beach last summer, deeming it unsafe after floodwaters damaged the adjacent seawall.

Jae Auger, owner of the Meteor Mike’s restaurant, said between the flooding in the Whiteshell and the closure of the beach – his sales dropped 50 per cent last year.

“It was terrible having nobody on the beach,” he said. “My business is right on the beach, so I am very much beach-driven and weather-driven.”

With the fences still up on the beach this spring, Auger is worried the situation won’t get any better this summer.

“It’s scary, because again, I don’t know what the summer is going to entail,” he said.

The province says there is ongoing planning and design work to repair the Crescent Beach Seawall, but a section of the beach will remain closed this summer.

“This work will continue through the summer requiring a portion of the beach to remain closed to the public due to public safety concerns with the integrity of the seawall in this area,” a spokesperson for the province told CTV News in an email.

The province said a portion of the beach adjacent to an area of the seawall deemed safe will be open to the public this summer.

As for the long-term fix to the seawall, the province says its final reconstruction plans will be ready by late summer and work is expected to begin by the early fall.

“The goal is to complete reconstruction into 2024 and have the entire Crescent Beach area reopened to the public by the summer of 2024,” the provincial spokesperson said.

Auger said, as a restaurant owner coming out of the pandemic and dealing with rising costs thanks to inflation, the closure of the beach is one more thing to worry about. He hopes there is some resolution soon.

“I’m hurting just like everybody else.”

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