After a rough weekend, beach communities mull peace officers for packed parks
EDMONTON -- Lakeside communities near Edmonton say they're thinking about beefing up beach enforcement after crowds turned up en masse to get some sun over the weekend.
Saturday's heat and sunshine drew a crowd to the beach at Wabamun Lake Provincial Park, promptings calls from that community's mayor for people to stay away.
“There was just a lack of physical distancing, people gathering in groups, there was a lot of people on the beach, not a lot of social distancing and people getting right up to people," Mayor Charlene Smylie told CTV News Edmonton.
The scene was the same at a local Wabamun park, Smylie said.
"I was really disappointed to see the crowds."
Alberta Beach was a similar story, with Mayor Jim Benedict saying roughly 300 people were "shoulder to shoulder" at the beach.
Both mayors now say they're taking action to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19.
"We're hoping to have more enforcement out on the weekend," said Benedict. "Maybe that will deter people."
Wabamun council is considering deploying peace officers at the beach, since the RCMP are already showing up frequently.
"I think the RCMP have more important things to tend to than crowded beaches, in my opinion," said Smylie.
No tickets related to physical distancing orders were issued at either beach last weekend, but that doesn't mean there weren't issues.
A woman was arrested at Wabamun Lake for unlawful possession of liquor while a man was arrested for assaulting a peace officer.
Both arrests were made by conservation officers, responding to reports of a large crowd.
Alberta's top doctor suggested it could be a case of the province's relatively low COVID-19 numbers sending the wrong message.
"The weather's nice, people want to be outdoors, they want to be with friends," she said. "But I do wonder because of our low numbers we're, in some ways, a victim of our own success."
Alberta announced 34 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, bringing the total number of active cases throughout the province to 400 people.