A mix of bad weather and good policing sharply limited the level of damage typically seen in the West Country during the Victoria Day long weekend, says the head of the Rocky Mountain House RCMP.
Police and forestry officials in Clearwater County had brought in extra patrols for the weekend, anticipating the annual invasion of weekend warriors who want only to rip up the environment with their quads and monster trucks while shattering the peace for neighbouring campers and leaving a trail of trash in their wake.
This year, it wasn’t so bad, Staff Sgt. Mark Groves of the Rocky RCMP said on Tuesday.
Some of the usual suspects were deterred by a fire ban that remained in place until 4 p.m. on Thursday, when weather conditions changed dramatically, bringing high winds, rain and — by Sunday morning — 10 cm of snow.
A large number of people had already changed their plans because of the fire bans, while those who did come out found themselves coping with a nasty turn of weather. Some RVs and motorhomes ended up stuck in their sites because of the rain and heavy snow, said Groves.
Having extra patrols on hand to keep the party animals under control meant there was an unusually high level of criminal enforcement as well, he said.
Police nabbed a number of people driving stolen vehicles and a suspect from a break-in near Cow Lake was tracked down and arrested on the Forestry Trunk Road, said Groves.
While there were no major traffic collisions in the Rocky area, Sundre RCMP reported that a Blackfalds man was killed and a man from Red Deer was seriously injured when their quad went out of control near Birch Lake on Saturday. Their names have not been released.
Groves said a task force involving RCMP, sheriffs, forestry officials and Clearwater County peace officers had been formed previously to protect the West Country wilderness from people who do not respect the environment or their fellow campers. Rocky RCMP had five to seven extra members on patrol at peak times during the weekend, he said.
The message to visitors is that they are welcome to come out and enjoy the West Country, but they can expect trouble if they cross the line.
“This is our back yard. Use it with respect,” said Groves.