N.B. parish’s mega-campground project faces hurdles

A walking trail passes through land belonging to the Parish of Shediac, N.B. Opponents say the land is environmentally sensitive and should be left undeveloped. Photo: 2017 Google
By on September 26, 2017

A New Brunswick Anglican parish involved in a controversial campground project has been asked by the provincial government to respond to it on 86 points, including the project’s possible impacts on wildlife, local water quality and environmentally sensitive land.

A project to build a 600-700 lot recreational vehicle campground on property belonging to the Anglican Parish of Shediac has been attracting opposition at least since it was proposed to Shediac town council in 2014. Critics argue, among other things, that part of the campground would be built on wetland, important for filtering pollutants out of runoff water during rainstorms.

The issue of water quality in the area is particularly sensitive because Parlee Beach, New Brunswick’s most popular beach, is within easy walking distance of the site, and both face onto the same body of water, Shediac Bay. Concerns about levels of E. coli and fecal contamination in the bay led this summer to a protest and a demand by the Shediac mayor that the province act to address water quality issues at the beach.

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The Red Dot Association, a group formed in 2014 to oppose the project, wants the site to remain undeveloped.

“If we take [the wetland] out, we’re just going to create more surface water coming…down into the estuary, which feeds into the bay, which ends up in Parlee Beach,” says association member Art Melanson. “It’s one of the last little green spaces operating as a wetland that’s left in the area, so why not protect that and keep it the way it is?”

In response to an interview request, the parish directed the Anglican Journal to Bishop of Fredericton David Edwards. But Edwards said he couldn’t comment on the project because he hadn’t seen the proposal. The bishop has to approve any land transactions made by the parishes, and for him to voice an opinion before any proposal is formally submitted to his office, he said, could be seen as pre-empting the process.

Details of the plan and a response to some environmental concerns, however, are included in an environmental impact assessment of the project filed by the parish with the New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government in May.

According to that document, the goal of the project is “to create a 4-star campground to accommodate the needs of the multitude of tourists that visit the Shediac region every year.” The project, it continues, would target tourists interested in “a top tier, eco-friendly campground.”

The parish, the document states, plans to lease the land to a developer, who will be expected to “maintain design principals that are in line with low impact development best management practices…that will minimize ecological impacts while allowing economic development.”

The original plan was to place lots next to the shoreline and the wetland that abuts it. However, in response to feedback from the town, local residents and the consultant hired to do the assessment, the site for these seasonal lots was moved to an “upslope” part of the 25.5-hectare property, the document states.

The project is only one of a number of uses the parish has at one time or another considered for the land. Others, according to the document, are “a strip mall type shopping centre, two former campground proposals, a ‘European Village’ type cottage community and several proposals for residential development.”

In its 16-page response, dated June 27, the province asks the parish to provide more information on a range of matters, and also to amend some information in the assessment that it contends is incorrect. For example, it calls for the parish to “provide more detail on how this campground would differ from other campgrounds in the area in terms of eco-friendly practices,” and it claims the assessment underestimates by a factor of 10 the amount of water that would be consumed per year on the site. It calls for the parish also to undertake a study examining how the project would affect traffic in the area, and for it to repeat an earlier study on the project’s impact on birds. It notes the “high level of public interest and concern” the project has generated, and calls for the parish to put together and submit to the department a plan on how it will consult the public and respond to people who have sent written feedback on the project.

Meanwhile, over the summer, the two people who say they came up with the idea for the campground both ended up withdrawing from the project, first Victor Boudreau and then Michel Boudreau (who is unrelated). Victor Boudreau is New Brunswick’s minister of health.

Asked to comment on what lies ahead for the campground now, Edwards said it would be up to the parish to decide whether to respond to the province’s questions and proceed with the project.

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  • Tali Folkins

    Tali Folkins joined the Anglican Journal in 2015 as staff writer, and has served as editor since October 2021. He has worked as a staff reporter for Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. His freelance writing credits include work for newspapers and magazines including The Globe and Mail and the former United Church Observer (now Broadview). He has a journalism degree from the University of King’s College and a master’s degree in Classics from Dalhousie University.

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