The weekend weather could not have been much “beachier” and thousands took advantage at Sylvan Lake.
Parking lots near the lakeshore were full by 10:30 a.m. on Sunday and the beachfront park was packed with families enjoying the heat, which hit about 30 C.
Extra Sylvan Lake RCMP and peace officers were on patrol on the weekend but there were no notable incidents, said town communications officer Jared Waldo.
Given the popularity of the beach when the temperature rises, Waldo recommends visitors get an early start if they wish to park in the lots near Centennial Park. A full-day parking pass costs $15.
Electronic signs have been set up on the two main entry points to the beach area alerting drivers if those lots are full.
Last year, when tighter health restrictions were in force the signs were set up on the highways outside town directing drivers elsewhere if the beach and park were at capacity.
“We’re not doing that at this time,” said Waldo, adding “we do ask that anyone visiting Sylvan Lake please respect residents and visitors alike. Continue to adhere to any provincial health guidelines, provide distance and let everyone enjoy the space together.”
For businesses, which have weathered a series of lockdowns and other health restrictions for 15 months, the arrival of summer and a heatwave of rare intensity was welcomed.
“I guess I can speak for a lot of the business community when I say they’re pretty glad to have things back and booming,” said Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce president Dave Phillips.
The pandemic has hurt many businesses, but the tourism industry has been hit particularly hard.
“It’s been certainly a tough go and I’m glad to see all of these businesses being able to boom.”
The sudden burst of activity is not without its challenges for business owners.
“To go from zero to 100 is often difficult,” he said. “I think a lot of people are having a hard time keeping up and having to dig down and work these long shifts all of a sudden again.
“It would not seem to me to be a hard time to get a job as a server.”
Phillips said he hopes servers and others are able to benefit from the surge by getting good tips. They are working long shifts in the heat to help entertain visitors.