Battle for the Beach

December 4, 2001

A recent article, “Battle for the Beach” (August 30, 2003), and two subsequent editorials call for major commercial developments in Grand Beach Provincial Park and surrounding area.

Why do provincial parks exist? The three purposes of Manitoba’s provincial parks from The Provincial Parks Act are to conserve ecosystems and maintain biodiversity; to preserve unique and representative natural, cultural and heritage resources; and to provide outdoor recreational and educational opportunities and experiences in a natural setting.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) believes that visitors to the area appreciate its natural features, such as the sand dunes, the lagoon, the endangered piping plover, and the water quality of the beaches themselves, and want to see them protected into the future. Water quality issues around the park this past summer already indicate a strain on the lake.

The majority of Manitoba’s parks, outside of the Whiteshell and Hecla, focus on camping, rental cabins and cottaging for accommodations, not hotels. We believe this is in keeping with the natural environment of a park.

Would more people stay overnight at Grand Beach if there were still train service to the area and high-end hotels and restaurants? This is difficult to say but improbable given the convenience of personal automobiles and the park’s close proximity to Winnipeg for out-of-province tourists and Manitobans alike.

There is a great people history to Grand Beach since the 1920s. This is still reflected today with the 300,000 visitors who continue to make the beach and area their summer destination.

We would question whether Manitobans truly believe we need lumber yards and bars within our provincial parks. The public consultations held over the last few years regarding the new management plan for Grand Beach Provincial Park certainly did not indicate major support for increases to commercial development in the park.

Beth McKechnie

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS)

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