‘The beach is vital’: Whiteshell businesses hampered after province fences off beach

Businesses near Crescent Beach, a popular destination in the Whiteshell, are worried a closure by the province will hurt vital tourism.

The hot weather will have many flocking to Manitoba beaches this weekend, but on West Hawk Lake, no one will be visiting Crescent Beach. The province fenced off the beach on Tuesday after flooding damaged the adjacent sea wall.

Amy Syrota, who has a seasonal spot a few minutes away, visited the closed beach on Saturday.

“I’ve been coming here for years. My whole life, actually, since I was little. So seeing this is actually devastating and it just sucks,” she said.

Businesses along Crescent Beach say the province didn’t consult them before closing the area.

“I’ve talked to five of the six businesses on the harbour front, including the marina, and no one was notified about the beach being closed,” said Shaun Harbottle, the owner of Crescent Beach Cottages.

“Made for a hard weekend since all of us had placed our order expecting a 36-degree weekend, you’re going to be busy.”

Harbottle said he met with provincial officials a few days before the fencing went up and wasn’t notified that the entire beach was closing.

“There was no talk of closing the entire beach. There was talk about maybe half of the beach being closed and some of the parking where the beach wall is damaged,” he said.

In a statement to CTV News on Thursday, the province said it is working on fixing the sea wall.

“The province engaged an engineer to assess sea wall damages and required repairs to make it safe and again allow public access to the beach – this assessment and reporting on required repairs and address is ongoing,” read part of the statement.

The province said it would update the Whiteshell Cottagers’ Association, residents, business operators and the South Whiteshell Chamber of Commerce as further information becomes available.

As for area businesses and residents, they say they haven’t seen any updates or progress being made.

“The beach is vital,” said Harbottle. “You get two months of nice weather in Manitoba, right? I don’t think anyone wants to come in December and sit on the beach.”

Harbottle noted Father’s Day and Canada Day are major moneymakers for area businesses, something that could be hampered by the beach closure.

“I always come to this beach, and I bring my friends and my family come here. It won’t probably be happening this year,” said Syrota.

CTV News has reached out to the province and the Whiteshell Cottagers’ Association. 

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