Tense meeting as residents voice opposition to planned trailer park at Aboiteau Beach

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Tense meeting as residents voice opposition to planned trailer park at Aboiteau Beach

At a tense meeting in Cap-Pelé, residents presented their arguments against a planned 273-site trailer park scheduled to open next year inside Aboiteau Park.

To date, 600 people have signed a petition against the project, for which construction is to start in September.

Opponents are worried about the environmental impact of adding a campground to what they feel is an already over-developed coastline.

"Our natural resources are in danger," said Pierre Gagnon, who spoke Monday night on behalf of the project opponents.

Residents were granted a one-month extension to submit concerns to the developer.

They asked council to position itself against the project.

But the mayor of Cap-Pelé, Serge Léger, said there's no question of stopping things, adding it's up to the province — which is reviewing the project's environmental impact assessment — to determine whether it goes ahead and under what conditions.

The municipality, which leases the land from the Department of Energy and Resource Development, had issued a call for project ideas to develop the land for campground use three years ago. Léger argued there was no opposition from residents at the time.

'It became explosive'

Natasha Bell, who was at the meeting this week, said things started getting tense when one of the councillors spoke after opponents made their presentation.

"It was just a speech defending the municipality and their involvement with the park," Bell said. "And it ended in what I would call a very harassing nature, making direct comments about our road, and certain residents in the community. 

"And it got to a point ... it became explosive."

Bell sent the mayor a letter saying she felt the comments were harassing.

"It was very emotional," said Pierre Gagnon.

"And I think some people may have taken the message maybe the wrong way. We're not critiquing anyone for what was done in the past. I think they've done a great job with l'Aboiteau. What we do now will affect the next 20 years. We just want to make sure we do the right thing."

Moratorium talks

Gagnon said part of the problem with these developments is the province only considers projects individually when doing environmental impact assessments.

He believes the cumulative impact of each project should also be considered.

- Aboiteau wants to become first Blue Flag-certified beach in New Brunswick 

"Essentially, every project gets evaluated one by one," he said. "There's no limit, I think — I stand to be corrected by the Ministry of Environment — you could have 10 campgrounds within two miles. And they'll evaluate them each, one by one, And I think someone would agree maybe having 10 campgrounds in two miles might be too much."    

He and other residents from Shediac and Cap Brûlé were meeting with representatives from the province Tuesday to give their views on a possible moratorium on development along the eastern coast of the province, from Grande-Digue to Murray Corner.