Point Pelee tip tower remains closed and there's no timeline for reopening

Point Pelee's observation tower pictured in a 2019 file photo.  (Tony Doucette/CBC - image credit)
Point Pelee's observation tower pictured in a 2019 file photo. (Tony Doucette/CBC - image credit)

It's been a year since the Point Pelee observation tower closed for repairs and Parks Canada says there's no timeline in place to reopen it.

In May 2022, officials said it was shut down for a safety issue with the guard rail system. In June, a safety bulletin stated the tower was undergoing an engineering inspection.

Kingsville resident Elizabeth Sanchez said her family bought a pass to Point Pelee in March 2022.

"The park is beautiful, we enjoy the beaches, we enjoy the marsh, we do kayaking," Sanchez said. "We still enjoy [the park] a lot but it's really disappointing such a beautiful tower is no longer accessible."

"I was really disappointed because they just opened the tower."

The 24-metre high Point Pelee tip tower was opened in 2020, as part of upgrades to the park that included replacing 500 metres of boardwalk. Funding for the project was announced to mark the 100th anniversary of the park in 2018.

Structural inspection done in the fall: Parks Canada

A potential construction issue was identified with the Tip Tower guard rail system in May 2022, according to Parks Canada. Another inspection was done in mid-May.

A visual inspection was carried out by an engineering firm responsible for the design of the tower on May 12, 2022.

Julia Grcevic, Parks Canada public relations and communications officer, says the inspection confirmed concerns with the welding of the guard rail system.

That's when Grcevic said the tower was closed to the public out of an "abundance of caution," in a statement to CBC News.

Another inspection was done by a third-party firm in September 2022, Grcevic said, adding that Parks Canada is working to correct the issues and "ensure the best value for taxpayer dollars."

"Planned work includes a redesign and repair of the safety railings. Unfortunately, we cannot offer a timeline for reopening of the tower at this point as we are in ongoing discussions with relevant parties," she said.

The tower initially cost nearly $1.2 million to construct and Parks Canada has since spent an additional $24,000 to study the issue.

The tower closure comes near the approach of Point Pelee National Park's Festival of Birds, slated to begin May 1 and run to May 22.