Residents want beach access back after rock pile installed in Wood Islands

Residents in Wood Islands, P.E.I., want access to a local beach restored after a rock pile was put in place last year. 

In June 2019, Bell Aliant installed a nearly eight-metre-high rock wall on the beach at the end of Pioneer Cemetery Road. It was installed by Bell Aliant to protect an undersea fibre-optic cable.

John Keuper lives at the opposite end of that road and owns a business nearby. 

He said this is the primary access point for that local beach and since the barrier has been in place, it's completely blocking access.

"I think it's important around the Island how we consider our beach access and that it remains as a public resource," he said.

The rocks were so big that our full-size dog fell into the hole and couldn't get out. — John Keuper, Wood Island resident

"There's a lot of beauty there. And we need to value it more so than just a place to land a cable."

He said when he was approached by the company about the project, he wasn't against it, but said he thought it would take residents' suggestions into consideration before moving forward.

"We recommended that they use some other method other than a stone wall," he said.

Rocks in place to protect infrastructure

In an email to CBC, a spokesperson for Bell Aliant said "the rock structure is protecting an undersea cable that is an important part of the Island's telecommunications infrastructure."

John Keuper

Keuper said he's not asking for the rock wall to be removed. He said he would have preferred a solution that fits everyone's needs — especially those that live in the area. 

Keuper said he also has concerns about safety. 

"We tried to look at the positives of it, but the rocks were so big that our full-size dog fell into the hole and couldn't get out."

Municipality pushing for solutions

Garth Gillis, the mayor of the rural municipality of Belfast, said council drafted a letter to the province expressing the community's concerns about the project. 

Isabella Zavarise/CBC

CBC contacted the province for comment but did not hear back immediately.

Bell Aliant said it did consult with the federal, and provincial government as well as local residents about the project. 

Keuper said he will continue to work toward finding a solution, like installing a set of stairs or another way of safely getting to the beach, until everyone has access again. 

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