Sylvan Lake will be closing a section of its waterfront road each weekend in August to allow for better physical distancing.
Closing a few of blocks of Lakeshore Drive to vehicle traffic will address the busiest days of summer by the lake, said economic development officer Amanda Mercer.
“We’ve witnessed the weekends are by far our busiest days, and pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders have a hard time moving about while social distancing,” Mercer said.
The street will be closed to vehicles beginning Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. and will remain closed until 10:30 p.m. Sunday night.
Lakeshore Drive will be closed from 46th Street to Centennial Street each weekend beginning this Saturday.
Mercer believes closing a section of the street will not hurt tourism; instead, it will make visitors feel safe in their choice to visit the community.
“What we know is that maintaining safety is crucially important to travellers … this year especially,” Mercer said. “Travellers are seeking out places that are quiet and puts their safety first.”
The closing of the street will also give business owners along that stretch a chance to attract a few extra customers. The town will be allowing businesses to apply to extend their patios onto the sidewalk, on weekends only.
Mercer says she will be working with businesses and Alberta Gaming, Liquour & Cannabis to expedite applications.
“We are pretty excited about this part… I am hoping we will begin to see a couple (patios) pop up in the next week or so.”
There will be no outdoor entertainment from the expanded patios or the shut-down street, Mercer says. Alberta Health says outdoor entertainment is not allowed right now, at this stage of the province’s relaunch plan.
However, expanding the patios onto the sidewalks will give the street more ambiance and atmosphere, according to Mercer.
Parking lots on Lakeshore Drive will remain open on the weekends until the park is at or near capacity.
“When we close the parking lots, we put up signs telling visitors to reconsider their visit to Sylvan Lake for another day. Or we direct them to the free public parking by the library and NexSource Centre,” Mercer said.