Feds, N.B. both invest $600K to upgrade Fundy Trail Parkway
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2019 3:02PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 9, 2019 3:35PM ADT
New Brunswick has long had the unfortunate, unofficial nickname Canada's “drive-through province” because lots of tourists drive through on the way to somewhere else.
New spending on a sprawling coastal eco-tourist attraction along the Bay of Fundy aims to have tourists put on the brakes and stay a while.
One of the beneficiaries will be a lodge built back in the 1960s by the wealthy Hearst newspaper family. It is located in the heart of New Brunswick's Fundy Trail Parkway, but the popular tourist attraction has seen better days.
“Unfortunately, we had to close it down a few years ago because it fell into disrepair and we didn't have the funds to sustain it,” said Greg Turner of the Fundy Trail Development Authority.
Funding from two levels of government is aimed at upgrading infrastructure at the parkway, including the Hearst lodge. The feds have announced $600,000 and that money has been matched by the province.
“We'll be able to bring it back to life,” Turner said. “We'll be able to upgrade the road getting into it, which is extremely dangerous today, so the road will be upgraded and the facility will be upgraded, and it's just a wonderful piece of history.”
The money will also go towards upgrading the cookhouse and the installation of an electric vehicle charging station.
These attractions and accommodations are designed to encourage tourists to spend more time in southern New Brunswick -- especially when the road connector project is finished.
“We're working on the throughway now from the end of the Parkway to the 114 and through the Sussex area,” said Sussex-Fundy-St. Martin’s MLA Bruce Northrup. “We want to keep that momentum going and there is work being done this year and next year leading into 2021.”
The announcement comes after a roundtable federal Tourism Minister Melanie Joly held in Sussex this past February.
“One of the things we clearly heard is that we needed to have more investments in the tourism sector in rural Canada,” Joly said at Monday’s announcement.
The announcement also comes just a few months shy of the federal election, so the funding promise is only secure if the party remains in power.
“Today's announcement here at the Parkway was about putting infrastructure in place to make sure that people have a greater experience when they come here and not just the drive,” said Fundy Royal MP Alaina Lockhart.
Alma, a village on the edge of Fundy National Park, already welcomes thousands of tourists each summer.
But, with the planned expansion of the Fundy Trail Parkway, they could be in line for even more visitors.
Tourists Brian Donahue and Kristen Antaya are visiting from Waterloo, Ont., and camping in Fundy National Park.
“We're early birds so thankfully we get to see everything when it's just us and nature, which we love,” said Antaya. “With the good weather, it’s been pretty busy. We saw lots of tourists show up when we were at the Hopewell Rocks.”
There is a downside to the increase in numbers -- a problem the village has been facing for years.
“It seems the busier Alma gets, the harder it is on our water,” said Deputy Mayor Andrew Casey.
With boil-water advisories put in place almost every summer since 2008, Casey, who also owns a hotel in the village, says the existing water system just doesn't cut it.
“The existing system was really designed for the village of Alma,” Casey said. “At the time, I guess it was around 400 residents and it wasn't really designed for the whole influx of tourists we get during the peak months of tourism.”
The village of Alma shouldn't expect a slowdown anytime soon as the sun will be out for the next several days.
Only time will tell if the increase in visitors thanks to the good weather will result in any water advisories.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Lyall and Eilish Bonang.