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The Fundy Trail Parkway in southern New Brunswick. Image: fundytrailparkway.com

Solid season for Fundy Trail Parkway despite rainy weather

By Brad Perry Oct 30, 2023 | 6:48 AM

It was a solid season overall for the Fundy Trail Parkway, according to the park’s general manager.

Nancy Lockerbie said the season started off rainy in June and July, but things really improved in August.

“In August, we had 20,000 people come to visit the park, and that is about 28.7 per cent of our visitation to date,” Lockerbie said in an interview last week.

That means the final visitor total for the park, which closed for the season on Sunday, should be around 70,000.

Lockerbie, who joined the park in 2015, said it has been wonderful to watch the tourist attraction grow over the years.

“When I started, there was only one entrance, one kiosk and an interpretative centre. Now the park has grown to have two different entrances with three different connectors, four kiosks and more,” she said.

The Fundy Trail Parkway officially opened its west gate in August 1998, showcasing the first 10-kilometre phase of the park.

The eastern entrance opened in May 2020 with the completion of the connector road to Sussex Corner. The following year, the connector road to Alma was completed.

The 2,529-hectare parkway stretches over 30 kilometres, with more than 35 kilometres of hiking and biking trails.

2023 also marked the final season that the parkway will be overseen by the Fundy Trail Development Authority.

Earlier this year, the province announced it would assume operation and management of the park in December.

Andrew Dixon, chair of the park’s board, said he is optimistic about what the future holds for the tourist attraction, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.

Dixon said it is important to look at the next 25 years strategically to see what it is going to take to make the parkway even better.

“It’s not a small business anymore, it’s becoming a larger enterprise. Under the provincial program, there’s a lot of strength,” Dixon said in an interview.

“This should be the jewel of New Brunswick tourism, and we believe that it is, and as such the folks that run a dozen parks throughout New Brunswick ought to put their attention to it. That’s exactly what will happen.”

Provincial officials have spent the past few months reviewing operations at the park and looking at possible service enhancements for the future.

That review is also taking a look at the number of employees needed for the park and their job classifications. Existing employees will have to reapply for their jobs with the province since they are unionized positions.

Tourism Minister Tammy Scott-Wallace previously said she does not anticipate a reduction in the number of staff at the park.

“We really want to provide a more exceptional experience than people already have when they go through the gates,” Scott-Wallace said in an interview back in July.