The Town of Sylvan Lake is looking to strike a balance between encouraging tourism and keeping public spaces safe for all those using them.
With the May long weekend around the corner, and with it the start of tourist season in Sylvan Lake, the town is looking at its options to encourage safe and healthy use of the lake for visitors and locals.
Some options, like closing Lakeshore Drive to motor vehicles on the weekend, is still being discussed. Others, like closing the parking lots once capacity has been reached, will be implemented.
Sylvan Lake, like many other tourist destinations in the province, is expecting the crowds to return in full force.
“The reality is that people are going to visit Sylvan Lake, no matter what. Albertans have been told they can gather outdoors to a maximum of five, to stay-cation within the province, and to support their local economies,” said Jared Waldo, communications officer with the town, adding crowds are bound to happen.
The town will also have COVID-related signage in place throughout the lakefront area. This is to remind everyone public health regulation are still in effect and must be observed to “protect our residents as well as our public health system,” Waldo says.
Enhanced enforcement in the lakefront and downtown area will also be implemented throughout the summer months.
Municipal and RCMP officers will be educating locals and visitors about public health regulations.
“We recognize that enforcement can’t be in all places at all times, so we’re relying on the public to support safety measures by respecting themselves and others.”
The current public health measures in place for Sylvan Lake include outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of five people.
Physical distancing of two metres must be maintained at all times and outdoor gatherings must not have an indoor gatherings, meaning movement in and out of homes is not permitted at this time.
The town is counting on individuals to be responsible with their personal safety and of the safety of those around them.
“We know that controlling social behaviour is extremely difficult and the town does not have the resources to manage and enforce everyone’s behaviour. The RCMP, and Alberta Health have the authority to enforce how visitors comply with physical distancing rules, but we want to be clear: given our experiences from the past summer and the sheer number of people, enforcement alone is not a solution or a realistic option,” Waldo said.
“People have to take some personal responsibility to help support each other and the safety of others.”