A 50th Birthday Gift for Kejimkujik
Jeremy’s Bay Campground improvements planned for 2020
As we look forward to celebrating the 50th Birthday of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in 2019, we are excited to share with our visitors and community stakeholders that we will be investing in improvements to Jeremy’s Bay Campground.
Parks Canada is currently undertaking an unprecedented $3 billion infrastructure investment program to national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas. As part of this program, the park will undergo a major project that consists of replacing the washrooms and utilities in Jeremy’s Bay Campground.
To undertake a project of this magnitude efficiently and safely means that Jeremy’s Bay Campground will be closed for the 2020 season. All day-use area facilities and backcountry activities and facilities will remain open for experiencing Kejimkujik during the closure of the campground.
Much of Kejimkujik’s existing infrastructure has not been upgraded over its lifespan; the time is right and, as our visitors tell us, the improvements are needed. This project involves a significant reconstruction, including new, accessible and gender-neutral washroom / shower buildings, refitting the campground’s wastewater management facilities, and building a new water treatment facility to bring these systems up to required standards. The project will ensure that visitor facilities are designed for long lifespan, low maintenance, and environmental efficiency.
Parks Canada fully assessed several options for construction phases and timelines, and also consulted with the construction industry to inform our decision-making. Given the safety considerations and remote location, partial or phased construction is simply not a viable option. A closure of the campground is the only option that allows the project to be delivered on time and in the most cost effective way, allows the project to proceed in a safe manner for visitors and staff, and does not expose visitors to negative camping experiences during a prolonged construction period.
In the coming weeks and months, we will be engaging with community stakeholders and partners to prepare for the summer of 2020. More broadly over the longer term, we have plans to continually communicate with our tourism partners and Kejimkujik’s regular visitors and campers to encourage trip-planning, share alternative camping or accommodations options, and continue to promote ongoing day use activities like trails, beaches, canoe rentals and the Visitor Centre, as well as backcountry camping.
A call for proposals among construction companies will occur in spring 2019. A contract will be awarded around May so that planning can begin. The campground will be open and fully accessible throughout the 2019 season to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site. Following the campground closure at the end of the 2019 season, construction will begin and carry on until the spring of 2021.
We hope that by sharing this news early, and committing to communicate often, we can work with stakeholders in the travel and tourism sector and with our local community and business partners, so that we can explore opportunities to work together to minimize the impact on visitors, as we prepare for this work and the renewed campground.
Parks Canada sees this as a key investment in tourism that will have lasting benefits for local communities and economies. Investments in visitor infrastructure—such as Jeremy’s Bay Campground—ensures the quality and reliability of visitor facilities and continues to allow Canadians to connect with nature.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a timeline for the work? When will the campground be closed?
The campground will remain open and offer full services for the 2019 camping season. Work on the washrooms will begin in the fall of 2019 once the campground is closed for the season. The work will continue through the 2020 season and be complete before the start of the 2021 camping season. As a result, the campground will be closed for the entire 2020 camping season.
2. What’s wrong with the current washrooms and shower facilities?
The current washrooms and showers were built in the 1960s and have reached the end of their lifespan. We have also learned from visitor surveys that two of the biggest concerns from campers are the location of the showers and the quality of the washrooms.
Kejimkujik has also seen large increases in visitors and campers in recent years. This investment will improve visitor experience and prepare Kejimkujik to provide excellent visitor services for many years to come.
3. How will the washrooms be improved?
This project involves demolishing the existing and aging washroom buildings. We will do away with having just one shower facility and instead include showers in all washrooms.
Using the existing footprint of the current washrooms, the new and improved washroom facilities will be fully accessible, family friendly, and gender neutral to better serve visitors. They’ll be modern and bright while blending in beautifully with the outdoors. We’re confident our campers will be very pleased with the end result.
In addition, the work includes refitting the campground’s wastewater management facilities, and building a new water treatment facility to bring these systems up to required standards.
4. What does an accessible, family friendly, and gender-neutral design look like?
The washrooms will be safe buildings that are well lit, open and have several exits. The current design has a common hallway space for all users with five individual rooms, each with toilet, sink, and grooming area behind a lockable door as well as three shower rooms with lockable doors. This will ensure more personal privacy than the current washrooms, as well as respect for the needs of people with accessibility limitations, and families with small children.
The design for these washrooms exhibits environmental leadership with high efficiency, long lifespan, and easy to clean facilities. A long lifespan building includes the physical building materials as well as progressive social design such as accessibility and gender neutrality that fits with changing social and demographic needs. The buildings will also be fully Dark Sky compliant.
5. Why does the campground need to be closed?
Parks Canada began looking at several options for construction phases and timelines, and eventually settled on five possible construction schedules that included options like phased construction, construction during the offseason, and construction in some areas while campers were present. After consulting with other national parks and the construction industry to inform the decision-making, each option was carefully analyzed. We weighed the potential impacts to the visitor experience, visitor safety, construction feasibility, project cost, revenue, and impacts to local tourism and economic stakeholders. All options had impacts.
Parks Canada does not take this decision lightly and recognizes the impact of closing the campground. The option of closing the campground for the 2020 season is the only one that ensures the safety of staff and visitors; it doesn’t expose campers to excessive noise, dust and disruption and it allows the project to be delivered on time and on budget.
6. Why not do the work in phases to keep sections of the campground open?
We strongly considered replacing the washrooms one or two at a time or doing one loop at a time, but this would have taken at least two seasons to complete and it would have created other potential impacts.
As with any construction project, the presence of large trucks and equipment greatly increases risks related to visitor safety. Given the fact that the campground has one access road and the infrastructure that will be under construction is in close proximity to campsites, roads, and trails, there would be no way to ensure the safety of visitors around the construction sites and the large equipment.
The movement of equipment and material would have significantly limited Parks Canada’s ability to maintain normal seasonal operations, especially with there being only one entrance to the campground. Also, other parks that have done phased work in their campgrounds have noted and received feedback that the ongoing construction over multiple camping seasons negatively impacts the experience visitors seek when camping in our national parks, including excessive noise, dust and disruption.
7. Couldn’t this work have been done during the winter and/or shoulder season?
Parks Canada fully assessed several options for construction phases and timelines, including doing the work in the winter and shoulder season.
Limiting the work to the winter and shoulder seasons would have extended the project construction over multiple years leading to prolonged negative camping experiences for visitors. Plus, working in the winter can inflate the cost of the project, with the higher likelihood of inclement weather further delaying the work and further increasing costs and time required to complete the work.
8. Will the park still be open? Will this effect programming?
All day-use and backcountry activities and facilities will remain open for experiencing Kejimkujik during the closure of the campground.
9. Where else in the area can I camp or stay overnight?
We will be speaking with our local community and tourism partners to share alternative camping or accommodations options. We will be updating our visitors with a list of places to stay in the area well in advance of the 2020 camping season.
10. How much will this cost?
Detailed costing for the project will not be available until the results of all tendering processes are known.
11. Will this project increase the size of the Jeremy’s Bay Campground?
This project will not impact the size of the campground, nor will it increase the size of the washroom footprint itself because the new washrooms will be built on the existing washroom footprint.
In the winter and spring of 2018 season, the park’s Visitor Centre and main administration building received some updates. Contractors replaced the outdated oil fire boiler with a new heat pump and solar hot water system; the roof was replaced; and a new septic system was installed.
We thank you for your continued support and understanding as we make improvements to Kejimkujik’s infrastructure.
Related Archeological Work
As the only national park, which is also a national historic site recognizing the Mi’kmaw cultural landscape here, archaeological work is a critical preliminary first step in the construction process. Before construction work begins, archeologists investigate the area using a series of test pits to search for the presence of cultural resources and historical artifacts. If discovered, they would be recovered and preserved.
For example, last summer, archeologists from Parks Canada and the Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative worked together to do some preliminary archeology at the site of the Eel Weir Bridge. Over many weeks, they uncovered over 5,000 artifacts at the site before construction of the new bridge began. These artifacts were catalogued and are being stored at Parks Canada’s archeology lab in Dartmouth where they will undergo analysis.
What we learn from archaeology is not only important for conservation, but also for protection and presentation. Artifacts help us to better understand these sites, their history and the people that lived and worked there, which in turn informs the interpretation of the site for visitors.