A portion of Crescent Beach at West Hawk Lake will remain closed to beachgoers this summer.

The province closed a portion last year in order to make necessary repairs to the Crescent Beach Seawall. Shaun Harbottle, owner of Crescent Beach Cottages (CBC), says that closure had a huge impact on visitor numbers to West Hawk Lake. And, for him that meant fewer cottage rentals and fewer sales in the store.

"The beach is such a big part of where we are. Its why people come out here," says Harbottle. "We only get two months of summer; nobody wants to come to the beach in January or February."

Harbottle says when the fencing went up last year, it surprised the business community at West Hawk Lake. He notes they were never informed that the fencing would be coming. Not only that, but Harbottle says they barricaded a much larger area than is necessary. He explains that at its highest, the beach wall stands 10.5 feet tall. Yet, the province chose to close the entire beach. He says even if that wall were to fall, which he says they have been told is unlikely, there is only so far that a 10.5-foot high wall can fall. 

"There is just not the reason to close the whole beach, or that big of a section of the beach," explains Harbottle.

Harbottle says he is not suggesting they stop worrying about safety, rather, he is saying there are things that can be done that allow people to continue enjoying the beach, while still keeping safety in mind.

The idea of having a portion of Crescent Beach closed for another summer is extremely disappointing, according to Harbottle. He says from what he has heard that wall has not budged one millimeter from when it first moved. 

In a statement by the province, it says Manitoba Parks continues to make good progress on the planning and design of necessary repairs to the Crescent Beach Seawall. It says work will continue through this coming summer, requiring a portion of the beach to remain closed to the public due to public safety concerns with the integrity of the seawall in the area. The province says a portion of the beach adjacent to an area of the seawall deemed safe for public access will be open to the public this summer season.

For Harbottle, he says that means more losses for his business, which he says is obviously very difficult. Harbottle says what is also disappointing is that they learned this update through the media. 

"We're trying to have open communication but obviously it's not working," he says. "There's no communication between the businesses and the province on this, which is disappointing."

Harbottle says the problem does not lie with their MLA Wayne Ewasko who has been "forthcoming" and "top-notch to deal with." Rather, he says the information is being lost in the giant known as Manitoba Parks. 

"It is disappointing that his office wasn't made aware of this either, this announcement, considering he is our MLA," adds Harbottle. "We are in a situation here, we're not in a municipality, we are in a park, so we are kind of at the whim of whatever they decide, which is tough."

The province has gone on to say that by late summer, final reconstruction plans will be ready for tender, with reconstruction work intended to begin by early fall. The goal is to complete reconstruction in 2024 and have the entire Crescent Beach area reopened to the public by the summer of 2024. 

Harbottle says his confidence in that happening is right now pretty low, noting he would be surprised if they start the project this fall.

"We've been told lots in the past about lots of different projects and Parks is a very slow-moving machine," he says. "They are more reactive than proactive that's for sure, which is hard when you are in tourism."