10 April 2015

Companies hired to examine tourism possibilities for Partridge Island

Global News

SAINT JOHN – A large crowd was out Thursday to hear which companies have been hired to examine the long breakwater connecting Partridge Island to the mainland.

Partridge Island is rich with history but remains inaccessible to the public. It was North America’s first quarantine station and was an important point in the Irish immigration to Canada in the 1800’s.

Money for a feasibility study to look into public access was announced years ago but it wasn’t until Thursday New Brunswickers learned actual work is set to get underway. 
Now, engineers are working to find out what condition the rocky path is in.

“Whether or not it’s suitably constructed, whether or not amalgamations need to be made to the breakwater,” said Darcy Harris of Dillon Consulting.

“Once we do that and arrive at that point we’ll be providing options on actually modifying the breakwater in an access to the island.”

Partridge Island can’t become a tourist attraction if you can’t get there safely.

But Marijke Blok, a member of the Partridge Island committee, believes the support is there to make it happen.

“I do feel very strongly there’s will among the public and there’s political will towards making this happen and I hope they go for it for the 150th anniversary of Confederation,” she said.

The New Brunswick Museum feels being able to connect to the island could be a real game changer.

“It’s no secret that our exhibition centre on the waterfront,  we would plan to  connect  with island programming and whatever we could in terms of artifacts that we have that relate there,” said the museum’s Gary Hughes.

Member of Parliament for Saint John Rodney Weston says people need to know this is a long term project.

“I don’t want anybody lining up over on the west side of Saint John hoping to start across there because this is going to take some time,” he said.

It’s expected the feasibility study on the breakwater could be complete by mid to late summer.

With files from Global’s Andrew Cromwell