Officials gear up for a busy May long weekend

Mounties will be once again be joined on the May long weekend watch by sheriffs, peace officers and staff from several government departments.

Mounties will be once again be joined on the May long weekend watch by sheriffs, peace officers and staff from several government departments.

“We’ll have about 360 officers patrolling various areas of the province. (They will be) conducting sting-like checkstops, off-highway vehicle compliance checks, and also to educate the public about respecting the land and other people,” said Kathy Kiel, a spokeswoman for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

A booze ban will also be in place in 10 provincial parks, and for the first time ever, national parks in Alberta including Banff, Yoho and Kootenay. The Parks Canada ban kicks in at 7 a.m. May 21 and ends at noon May 24, Victoria Day.

Besides Sustainable Resource Development, staff from the province’s Tourism, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, Solicitor General and Public Security departments will be giving RCMP a hand.

Last year, the multi-agency task force handed out 2,200 tickets during the long weekend and met with more than 18,000 people, said Kiel. The effort is considered such a success it was expanded to include Lesser Slave Lake and Lac La Biche.

In the West Country, about 90 enforcement officials will be cruising around, including quad, motorcycle, jet boat and foot patrols.

“The department will be looking for various violations of the forest recreation regulations,” she said. Quad riders or other off-road vehicle users who go off trail or use trails outside of the posted hours will be among those targeted.

Officials will also crack down on litter bugs and campers who leave campfires untended.

Thirty-three abandoned campfires were discovered last year.

“A lot of people think, ‘Hey, I doused it once with water, I’m good.’ ” Campers must soak down the ashes, stir them, and then douse them again to ensure wind doesn’t whip up flames again, she said.

Travellers who hit a checkstop can also expect to prove their off-road vehicle registrations and insurance are up to date, and officials will be looking out for any Wildlife Act offences.

Campers are also asked to keep track of all of their garbage. The province launched a blitz last year to encourage people to clean up their trash. At the end of the weekend, provincial officials hauled out 400 bags of garbage from provincial parks following the weekend.

“What we’re trying to remind the public is if you take it in please take it out. Mother Nature doesn’t clean up after you.”

A number of alcohol bans are also in place to keep the rowdyism to a minimum. In Central Alberta, Jarvis Bay Provincial Park on Sylvan Lake and Aspen Beach Provincial Park on Gull Lake are affected.

Sylvan Lake RCMP Cpl. Kevin Halwa said they will have some extra officers on duty as is typical during busy periods. “We’re kind of used to the ebbs and flows of seasonal traffic.”

The police are reminding visitors that there will be “zero tolerance” for alcohol on the beach.

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