Even with the heat, many staying away from N.B. beach

Monday was a perfect beach day, with a cooling breeze off the water that made low 30s temperatures bearable.

With the all-clear given for swimming at Parlee Beach by the Department of Health, many ventured into the water.

“We heard it’s a nice beach and we did check the conditions,” said beachgoer Andy Lacroix. “Yesterday wasn’t safe and today it is, so we thought we would check it out.”

Sunday marked the ninth time this season swimming has been restricted. Eight were because of excessive rain, which can create surface runoff that can carry bacteria into the water. The other time was because of positive sample results for bacteria.

“When it comes to water-quality testing, Parlee Beach has been getting great results,” said New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant.

In May 2017, government invested nearly $3 million in infrastructure and studies to support water quality improvements at Parlee Beach. 

Gallant says that is paying off.

“When you look at the amount of tests Parlee Beach has gone through where it has met or exceeded the national guidelines for swimming, it is actually quite good and we are talking about 95 per cent or more of the time the water is great to swimming,” Gallant said.

Ten water samples are taken a day at Parlee Beach and officials say the beach has been consistently meeting levels put in place by the Canadian recreational standards for water quality.

Arthur Melanson of the Red Dot Society suggests the higher number of clean tests could be because there are fewer people at the beach.

“When you get 10,000 people on the beach using the sewage infrastructure, it cannot handle that because of the issues that could be there,” Melanson said.

With visitation to the beach down, the economy is starting to suffer

“It has affected some businesses, there’s no doubt about that,” says Ron Cormier of the Greater Shediac Chamber of Commerce.

Cormier says water quality issues at Parlee Beach are being overblown.

“It’s a shame that we have certain groups to continue to drive an agenda that is targeted towards putting a moratorium on economic development and they’re using Parlee Beach to do so,” he said.

As summer continues, people will still visit the beach, but many more will forego a trip to the surf and sand until confidence in the New Brunswick attraction is restored.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.

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