By Craig Westcott| August 5, 2021
They didn’t get all the financial help they had hoped to protect the beach from future storms, but the Town of Harbour Main- Chapel’s Cove-Lakeview is happy to have at least repaired a popular beach that was damaged during Snowmageddon and reopen it last week to residents and visitors.
Mayor Mike Doyle said the January 2020 storm destroyed the Chapel’s Cove beach and boat launch.
“It is now back in operation and open to the public again now that all the remediation from the Emergency Response funding has been done,” said Walsh, who invited media to tour the area. “It’s just an outstanding job that was done by Shaw Ventures, the contractor whom the Province had do the work. They did a real beautiful job there.”
How bad was the damage?
“It was disastrous,” said Doyle. “It absolutely destroyed our small breakwater and absolutely dissolved the slipway. It all disappeared and it washed out a good portion of the west side of the beach. A lot of debris and rock from the ocean landed up on the beach. You couldn’t even use the beach, it was unusable, and the road itself after Snowmagaddon was unpassable. We couldn’t even get emergency services into the residents in that area and they couldn’t get out of that area due to all the rock and debris there. We had to get a bulldozer in to plow a road just to get them in and out of there.”
Some six households were affected.
“Literally when you looked at the beach it sort of reminded me of old war movies where everything is all blown up and destroyed,” said Doyle. “You’d never know that under it was a beautiful sandy beach. You couldn’t even walk onto it. And it was really hard on the community because that is one of the main natural beaches that we use for community events and fundraisers and things.”
The provincial and federal governments kicked in a combined $90,000 to repair the beach and the town itself paid over $17,000 to lay in a retaining wall to protect the road leading to the boat launch from future washouts. The town had applied for about $1 million in funding hoping to build a second, larger breakwater to protect the area, but the Province said no.
“The Province came back and said, sorry, this grant only does reclamation, it doesn’t do mitigation,” Doyle said. “We did manage to get it cleaned up as best we could with the $90,000 that they provided us with.”
Doyle is happy to see the beach back open. It gets a lot of use from locals and visitors, he said, and is the site of the Town’s annual Polar Bear Dip. Prior to the storm the area was also getting attention from homebuilders and has the potential to promote economic development and investment in the town, Doyle allowed.
“People like to sit on the beach and watch the whales and beachcomb for sea rocks,” Doyle added. “We’ve got camp stoves there and picnic tables. It is very well used by the community.”
Since it reopened, the boat launch is seeing more use than it did before Snowmagedon, Doyle said. He attributes that to the need for a proper slipway on the Harbour Main side of town, which is in fact being built. While that construction is ongoing, more people have been availing of the Chapel’s Cove boat launch.
Meanwhile, the west side of the beach remains unrepaired, the mayor noted, because the responsibility for it lies with the provincial Department of Transportation. “And they haven’t done their work to fix it up,” said Doyle. “On that side of the beach is Point Road and that’s where our water and sewer lines are. So council is rather concerned that that hasn’t been addressed yet.”
Doyle said council has discussed it with Harbour Main MHA Helen Conway Ottenheimer, who has raised it with Transportation Minister Elvis Loveless. “They (the Department of Transportation) said they are aware of it and they gave her assurances that it will get addressed at sometime, but we just don’t know when that sometime is. I did send off a letter to the Minister’s office to see if they could give us some sort of date or time, but we haven’t heard anything back yet.”