The owner of a popular campground along P.E.I.'s North Shore has decided to shut it down permanently, more than a year after post-tropical storm Fiona caused extensive damage to his business that he hasn't been able to repair.
Matthew Wedge says his insurance provider won't cover any of the estimated $500,000 in repairs needed at Crystal Beach Campground in Lower New Annan.
He's also been denied funding through government assistance programs.
"You can't keep cleaning up after storms if you're not getting any funding... I was holding out for that last-minute miracle to happen. But it didn't happen," said Wedge.
"I tried to look at all the different angles, and it kind of came to a point where I had to pull off the Band-Aid, and make the decision to close the campground, which was a very hard decision to make after being in the business 23 years.
Crystal Beach Campground owner Matthew Wedge, seen here after post-tropical storm Dorian walloped his business in 2019. (Tom Steepe/CBC)
"You meet many people and it becomes more than just a business. It was very difficult."
Fiona was the second major storm to wallop the campground in just three years.
Back in 2019, post-tropical storm Dorian also caused major damage. Wedge said his insurance provider did pay for most of the repairs then.
No storm surge coverage
But he said the company ruled after Fiona hit in September 2022 that storm surge was entirely to blame for the destruction — including damage to the campground's buildings, equipment, electrical and septic systems. And his insurance didn't cover storm surge.
"Water covered most of the campground. There was really no safe place," said Wedge. "Our splash pad and pool deck actually lifted right up and crashed right into our washroom and rec centre, took the bricks out the front, and went in and washed out the washrooms. All the electrical would have to be replaced."
His small business didn't meet the criteria for funding through the P.E.I. government's disaster assistance program, administered by the Canadian Red Cross.
Officials with the federal Hurricane Fiona Recovery Fund recently ruled they will cover the cost of cleanup, but not a rebuild.
"I was told it's because of the history of the property, I guess — the fact that Dorian happened, Fiona happened, and the future is uncertain of what other storms might come our way," he said.
"I understand where they're at with that. The fact we've been through it a couple times, we don't know what the future holds... I understand. It's just hard to accept when it happens to you."
The owner of Crystal Beach Campground estimates post-tropical storm Fiona caused roughly $500,000 in damages. (Matthew Wedge via CBC)
Wedge said he's not sure what he'll do with the campground property. He'd consider selling it, "but with the history of the property, I believe that's going to be quite hard."
He said having to shut down the business is a tough financial hit for his family, but also an emotional one. Wedge named the campground after his sister, Crystal, who died in 1988.
"Of course you take a little extra pride in your property when it's named after a sibling, especially when they pass away like that at a young age," he said.
"To see it the way it is now, all overgrown, it does make it extra hard with the name."
This article, written by Steve Bruce, was originally published for CBC News on Nov. 13, 2023.