'Residents only': Seba Beach closed to the public
EDMONTON -- Seba Beach west of Edmonton has closed its beach to the public.
The summer village on Lake Wabamun made the decision to help protect residents as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
"People being disruptive on the beach, leaving their garbage, leaving their waste material," said resident Maureen Collins.
"But whether it's resident or non-resident, that's still the problem, people go to a beach, [and] there's not a lot of beach this year, it's narrow because of the water level."
In an email to CTV News Edmonton, a Government of Alberta spokesperson said:
"Municipalities have substantial authority under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) to make decisions in the best interest of their communities. This includes authority over public areas within their boundaries.
"Seba Beach has the authority to close a public beach within its boundaries, or place limits on the number of people using the beach at any given time."
One of the main concerns residents raise is a lack of publicly accessible washrooms, a pavilion project will solve that problem, but it's still under construction.
Campers in the area are upset by the closure. Rick Urqhart and his family have camped near Seba Beach for the last five summers, but since they aren't residents, Urqhart's been told he can't bring his family to the shore.
"I come down here, I pay to stay up here," said Urqhart. "I talked to the bylaw officer and he just shrugged at us."
Beaches around the province have been crowded in recent weeks as people try to make the most of the warm weather.
- READ MORE: As temperatures soared, so did crowds at area parks, beaches
- READ MORE: 'Felt like a COVIDiot': Sun seekers pack Sylvan Lake, Alta. beach
But public health officials continue to warn against gathering in large groups, encouraging physical distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“That kind of conduct, unfortunately, could jeopardize the progress that we have made," Premier Jason Kenney said in July after hundreds of people crowded the beach at Sylvan Lake. "We are not done with COVID, but we are learning how to live with it and our future success depends entirely on not letting our guard down.”
Alberta has had 11,146 cases of COVID-19 and 201 deaths as of Tuesday, Aug. 4.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Carlyle Fiset