Public safety concerns in Birch Island area

News Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 28, 2015 Happy Valley – Goose Bay, NL – The municipality is reaching out to the community for assistance

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2015

Happy Valley – Goose Bay, NL – The municipality is reaching out to the community for assistance in raising awareness on the dangers of swimming in the Churchill River, near the Birch Island area.

“While the area is Crown Land and is not owned by the municipality, the town is addressing the grave public safety concern with residents frequenting the area. The 11th Council continues to put the safety of our residents first and foremost,” said Councillor Tanya Michelin. “There have been several tragic instances in the past where individuals have lost their lives. In an effort to prevent any future tragedies, the town will be erecting cautionary signage to discourage use of the area as a swimming location.”

With a shifting sand bed, the Churchill River changes each year creating new channels and extremely powerful undertows which present a serious danger to individuals using the area. The town is determining the type of signage and exact placement, and will have it erected in the near future. In the meantime, residents are asked to assist in raising awareness amongst the community.

The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay encourages newcomers, families, parents, youth and all individuals to pay attention to the town’s warning signage, when posted, and avoid swimming in the Churchill River, near the Birch Island area. Residents can safely enjoy other designated swimming areas in the Upper Lake Melville region, such as Gosling Lake and the North West River beach.

The town is working in conjunction with Healthy Waters Labrador (HWL) on the Birch Island Restoration and Trail Project, which will transform the area into a historical location for residents and tourists to visit and explore.

Reducing waste in the Birch Island area is key to this redevelopment and to assist, the town has installed bear-proof garbage cans to minimize littering and illegal dumping in the area.

Councillor Michelin sits on the HWL board as a committee member and as the official liaison for the municipality on the restoration and trail project. The town has further representation through Councillor Chubbs who is involved with the project through his role as the president of the Labrador Hunting and Fishing Association.

“As a community, we need to assist Healthy Waters Labrador in revitalising Birch Island. That involves heeding the dangers of the Churchill River and respecting the Birch Island area as a historical site, not a swimming area,” said Mayor Jamie Snook. “I would like to commend Healthy Waters Labrador, along with Councillors Michelin and Chubbs for their commitment to this environmental and historical project.”

The Birch Island project will be conducted in phases and is scheduled for full completion within three years. The first phase is taking place this summer and involves the replacement of culverts, construction of a 30-foot bridge and an outdoor classroom.

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For more information, please contact:

Naomi Sharpe
Public Relations & Special Events Manager
Town of Happy Valley – Goose Bay
P: 709-896-3254
[email protected]