Canal Beach to be kept 'golden' through upgrades

·3 min read

Beachgoers may notice some changes when they visit Canal Beach, one of the few freshwater beaches in southwestern New Brunswick.

The public beach, located on the banks of Lake Utopia, is getting a new canteen building with washrooms and an outdoor shower, a retaining wall and other amenities, with 75 per cent of the beach rejuvenation project complete to date, according to Jason Gaudet, chief administrative officer with the Town of St. George.

The $360,000 project – one that has been sitting on the town's wish list, Gaudet added – has been covered by the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF), a pocket of money received by the province to support eligible developments in unincorporated areas, according to a town press release.

About five kilometres north of the town, Canal Beach is open from June to September.

Gaudet said a "thigh-high" retaining wall will separate the beach from the parking area in order to keep the beach "golden" and free from gravel.

"Visitors and local residents enjoy Lake Utopia," Gaudet said. "This is really the only opportunity, there (are) no other public accesses into Lake Utopia."

The beach has remained open while construction is ongoing, he said, apologizing to the public for any inconvenience.

In an emailed statement citing a town press release, St. George Mayor John Detorakis said the project "manifests the strong connection between the Town of St. George and the Parish of St. George along the Magaguadavic River.

"The two communities have always maintained a robust historical relationship that goes back to our town's inception in 1786 as one of the original parishes in Charlotte County."

In order for the project to move ahead, Detorakis said J.D. Irving, Limited and the Town of St. George worked together to develop a cooperative land-use agreement.

In addition to beach upgrades, the parking area will also be rebuilt, and the old canteen building will be used for storage, according to the release.

Gaudet said the old canteen will be used to store trash cans, maintenance equipment, lawnmowers and other supplies so that all of this does not have to be "trucked in" whenever there is maintenance work to be done on the beach.

Canal Beach is not only "heavily" used by the locals but also draws beachgoers from Fredericton, Sussex, Saint John and other communities, Gaudet said, noting during the pandemic, people were looking for outdoor places to visit.

“The last two years have really emphasized the value of outdoor, accessible spaces that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors," said Andrea Anderson-Mason, MLA for Fundy-The-Isles Saint John West, in the release.

She said projects like that of Canal Beach "contribute to the physical, mental and social well-being of a healthy community," and "now (Canal Beach) will be enhanced to assure future use" thanks to the upgrades.

Construction work is expected to wrap up at Canal Beach by the end of the year, Gaudet said.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal