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New superintendent has innovative plans for Sandbanks

By Nicole Kleinsteuber
The Sandbanks Provincial Park has a new superintendent and he has hit the sand running with some innovative ways to keep the park connected to Prince Edward County.

Just six weeks into the job, Robin Reilly presented his suggestions to Prince Edward County council Tuesday night saying he wants to develop a close working relationship with the municipality.

“The staff at the Sandbanks are very competent and I don’t have to ‘fix’ anything,” said Reilly in an interview.  “I want to make connections and build networks by linking the Sandbanks to other parks and museums around the county.”

Reilly joined the Sandbanks crew from Quetico Provincial Park where he worked as a superintendent for 11 years.

Quetico is a vast wilderness and canoeing location in Thunder Bay.

“Quetico and the Sanbanks are mirror opposites,” said Reilly.  “Quetico is a huge park with not a huge number of people, whereas Sandbanks is smaller with a vast number of visitors each year.”

Reilly said the Sandbanks welcomes roughly 650,000 visitors each year and it exceeds occupancy more than any other park in the province.

“This park is essentially full,” said Reilly.  “When you compare it to a hotel, essentially 97 per cent of the rooms are occupied and all of the spill-over traffic goes to other parks, camp parks and bed and breakfasts’.  In terms of economic impact the number is going up because a large majority of tourists are staying somewhere else in the county.”

A low broadcast radio system is being set up to help inform travelers of what is going on within park.  It can be heard up to 2 kilometres from the gatehouse, keeping visitors up to date on park’s occupancy levels and activities.  It will also advertise other ‘must see and stay’ locations within the county.

Reilly said the Sandbanks collects several million per year in park fees and has an operating budget of approximately 1.5 million dollars, which is spent throughout the community.

Mayor Peter Mertens was impressed with Reilly’s proposal to welcome council’s involvement.

“This is the first time since I’ve been on council that a representative from the Sandbanks has come forward,” said Mertens in an interview.  “This is very useful from an economic standpoint.”

Having a strong economic impact and staying connected within the community isn’t Reilly’s only focus.  Reilly said he enjoys challenges. Climate control and park preservation are also issues he plans to address.

“There are some interesting challenges, not only about maintaining the beach,” said Reilly.  “There is a piece of it that is about trying to restore the forest and woodlands within the park.”

Filed Under: Local News

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