The majestic Partridge Island in Saint John, with it’s signature lighthouse overlooking the harbour, has been off-limits to the public for a number of years, but there seems to be an appetite to see that change.
A study was commissioned to look at the feasibility of putting some major work into the kilometre long breakwater that provides the only land access to the historic island.
The report is in on how to make the breakwater leading to Partridge Island more publicly accessible, and just like many people thought, it’s got a large price tag.
Estimates range anywhere from $27 to 40 million.
Raising the imposing breakwater to a safer height for pedestrian use is one of the key challenges, according to Dillon Consulting which compiled the report.
“You talk about adding a significant amount of rock,” said Darcy Harris of Dillon Consulting. “We created some features on the sea side of the of the breakwater to limit some of the wave action as it ran up on the breakwater and then on top of that you’re looking at putting a surface that’s durable that’s going to withstand the harsh elements.”
Saint John MP Wayne Long is one of the champions of the restoration of Partridge Island as a tourist attraction.
“The price tag on the causeway, even though its higher than people expected, it’s certainly in my opinion a non-starter,” said Long. “It does not slow this process down one bit.”
In fact, Long feels the island aspect should be played up.
“I think the allure of Partridge Island is the fact that it should be accessible by boat,” he said.
Saint John historian Harold Wright likely knows the island better than anyone. He says he and Long are on the same page.
“You build a wharf,” Wright said. “A wharf that means boaters can go out, fishermen can use it. I believe that someone should be living on the island, provide security.”
Partridge Island is especially significant to people of Irish decent.
It was a landing spot for many Irish immigrants coming to Canada.
“I think the good news is that it does sound like the government has a will.” said Marijke Blok, New Brunswick president of the Irish Canadian Cultural Association. “It’s such an opportunity for any city in the current economic times.”
The will is there as far as Long is concerned.
“I certainly expect to see Partridge Island refurbished within my mandate.”