By Jensen, Randy on June 30, 2020.
Lethbridge Herald -waterton
With the delayed openings of national and provincial parks this year due to COVID-19, Waterton Lakes National Park is hoping area residents will head to the park on Canada Day for a proper national celebration.
Since the opening of the park on June 1, visitation has been limited, but the town has been working hard to open almost everything up to the public, with additional safety and cleanliness precautions.
“The town is keen to be open and excited for people to be here and to be up and running again. We’re happy to be practising all of the safety precautions there are,” says Bob Cruickshank, owner of Zums Restaurant in Waterton. “We think it is a great place to come for Canada Day and every other day. We think it is a great little gem in southern Alberta, maybe some that haven’t seen it yet, but we hope they do soon.”
Since the late start to an open, Waterton’s visitation has been more dependent on weather compared to previous years, and businesses owners are hoping that will change following Canada Day.
“I am hoping that Canada Day will be busy and I hope that July and August is a little more normal for us because we definitely need it. It has been a bit down from previous years,” says Cruickshank. “We are behind for the season. Visitors have been a little more weather dependent than usual; on rainy days there isn’t much going on, but this time on a normal season we would be busy every day, no matter the weather.”
With the town businesses scrambling to find staff, supplies and completely reopen their shops in a matter of weeks, they also were able to make sure every facility was equipped with proper safety precautions, even blocking off main street from traffic for more social space in the main centre.
“We weren’t able to open until June 1, so for us, we didn’t really know what to expect and we didn’t know that the park was going to open until a couple weeks before they announced it, and once they did we scrambled to do so because we wanted to open as soon as possible,” says Cruickshank. “Since then, it has been pretty good. Weekends have had a decent amount of people around and all of the businesses are taking extra precautions with sanitizing, social distancing and doing everything we can. We closed main street to cars so there is a lot more room for people to walk. Social distancing is no problem here at all, it is a great place to come if you are concerned about social distancing.”
For more information on what services, trails and activities are available in the park, visit mywaterton.ca.
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