Spring programming at some favourite Red Deer sites may be sidelined by COVID-19, but activities should resume in July — fingers crossed.
Ian Warwick, executive director at Sunnybrook Farm Museum, said the site will be closed until the end of June like other city cultural facilities. For now, people should not even walk through the property.
“There is all this equipment that people touch. There is no way we can wipe it all down constantly, when we rely so much on volunteers. For now, we’re closed,” Warwick said.
In May and June, close to 10,000 students traditionally visit Sunnybrook. Community dinners prepared by volunteers will also be cancelled.
“The Ladies of Sunnybrook Farm raise almost $40,000 a year for us. Not having those fundraising activities is really going to affect our bottom line. But we’ve got some operating reserves, so for now, we’re doing OK.”
The federal government’s announcement to provide a 75 per cent wage subsidy for charities and businesses will be a big help, he said.
Most of Sunnybrook’s volunteers are seniors, he said.
“We’ve got this huge list of projects we wanted them to work on this summer, but they’re going to have to stay away for the time being, until we get the go-ahead to resume some normalcy,” Warwick said,
Todd Nivens, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, said Kerry Wood Nature Centre is closed and spring school programs are cancelled, but hopefully, other programs will resume in July.
“Right now, the city trails and parks are open. Playgrounds are closed because they are high-contact areas, and all of the public bathrooms, including the bathrooms at Kerry Wood Nature Centre, are closed because they are also high-contact areas,” Nivens said.
But visitors have been eager to stretch their legs on Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary trails.
“On a Wednesday morning, we were seeing the kind of numbers of people at the sanctuary typical on a busy afternoon in the summer.”
“The parks and the trails are really important right now. They give people the chance to be out of their house safely. As long as we’re all practising physical distancing, there’s a lot of benefit to being out.
“If you’re not under an isolation protocol, you need to get outside and you need to go for a walk. City parks are a brilliant way to do that,” Nivens said.
The nature trails at Medicine River Wildlife Centre, west of Innisfail, remain open to visitors. The centre is closed to the public, but injured wildlife patients continue to be accepted at the hospital.
The grand opening of the new wildlife hospital on May 23 has been postponed.