Below-normal temperatures and alcohol bans helped quench big time partying on the May long weekend.
Several Central Alberta campgrounds contacted on Monday said they experienced no problems by those looking to enjoy the outdoors.
One camper, 18-year-old Brandon Ross of Red Deer, was airlifted to Edmonton’s University of Alberta Hospital after his truck hurtled down an embankment southwest of Rocky Mountain House. He was thrown out of the truck.
Rocky RCMP say the man had been seen leaving his campsite about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night and was reported missing on Sunday about 5 p.m. Police searched the area and shortly after found the truck and Ross nearby.
Ambulance and fire crews, as well as Alberta sheriffs, were called to help. STARS air ambulance was dispatched to the Prairie Creek Provincial Recreation Area just after 7 p.m. on Sunday to pick up the man.
“The 18-year-old had been ejected from the vehicle and had gone over approximately a 30-foot embankment,” said STARS spokesman Cam Heke on Monday.
“He was located at the bottom of the embankment where he had been for an unknown period of time, unknown by STARS.”
Ross was listed in serious, but stable condition en route to hospital.
Rocky RCMP were continuing to investigate, including whether alcohol was a factor.
Mounties were part of a heavy contigent patrolling Alberta highways and public lands to ensure people were kept safe. Checkstops were held and tickets were handed out.
Sylvan Lake RCMP Cpl. James Allemekinders said police had a “manageable” weekend. Noise complaints were down, but police still handed out lots of liquor and traffic tickets from Friday to Monday, about 30 each. Police charged nine people with impaired driving and gave out five 24-hour suspensions.
Corrie Robinson, who does maintenance work at Cow Lake Recreation Area 20 km southwest of Rocky, said she heard of some all-terrain vehicle riders who had gotten stuck in the mud and the Rocky police came out to help.
Inside the campground, people were well-behaved as well.
“We even had groups of teens who came up (Monday) morning asking for (garbage bags) to clean up their stalls and they were very responsible at turning down their music at night,” Robinson said.
Robinson said the campground, which has 100-plus sites, was about 90 per cent full. Extra security was on, but it wasn’t needed.
Besides that, temperatures dipped to around -4 C.
“Our tenters froze,” Robinson said.
Matt MacDonald, meteorologist for Environment Canada, said the Red Deer and Nordegg regions experienced quite a bit cooler temperatures than normal. Nordegg reported a high of 11 C on Sunday, but by Monday morning it had dipped to -2 C. The Peace district had it worse though, reporting 10 to 15 cm of snow on Saturday, he added.
Linda Latter, lease operator of the Upper Shunda Creek campground west of Nordegg, said the poor weather had a huge impact.
“We had 25 per cent cancellations. . . income wise, we’re probably down 37 to 40 per cent,” she said. “The one thing that helps us is we’re the only campground out here that allows ATVs.”
Alcohol was permitted, but no problems were encountered.
Temporary liquor bans were put in place from Thursday through Monday at 10 provincial parks and recreation areas, including at Jarvis Bay Provincial Park at Sylvan Lake.
Logan Van Imschoot, a supervisor at the Jarvis park and conservation officer, said the alcohol ban made a big difference.
“We had two campsites evicted,” Van Imschoot said. “When I compare it to the last May long weekend, it’s almost apples to oranges. The enforcement was cut down very significantly from last year.”
The campground, with about 200 sites, wasn’t fully booked on Friday and by Saturday, more people left to escape the cold and wind.
David Thompson Resort campground near Nordegg was about 70 per cent full, same as last year.
Co-owner Ron Killick said they only had one incident in which Rocky RCMP were called out. It involved an intoxicated man in a domestic dispute.
“I believe the RCMP did an outstanding job this (past) weekend,” he said.