Town of Sylvan Lake responds to crowded beach concerns
EDMONTON -- Responding to complaints about a lack of physical distancing on the weekend, the Town of Sylvan Lake said that all Albertans must do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Controlling social behaviour is tremendously difficult; we neither have the jurisdiction, nor the resources, to manage and enforce behaviour," CAO Wally Ferris said in a statement released Monday. "Only the RCMP, and Alberta Health has the authority to enforce how visitors comply with physical distancing rules, but we want to be clear: from what we observed on the weekend – the sheer number of people, enforcement alone is not the solution."
Video sent to CTV News Edmonton by a local resident showed people crowded along the shoreline and very few wearing masks.
“I was just shocked," Greg Dickson said. "There were so many people walking by that they were stepping on your toes. I’ve seen the beach busy before, never like this. It was just a crush."
The town said it has asked the province for guidance on how to continue to operate while keeping its public spaces safe.
"The public has been told they can form family cohorts of up to 15, to stay-cation within the province, and to support their local economies," the statement reads. "With this, larger crowds at destinations like Sylvan Lake (and we’re aware of many other locations), are bound to happen."
Premier Jason Kenney addressed crowding during his relaunch update on Monday afternoon.
"That kind of conduct could jeopardize the progress that we have made," Kenney said. "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."
In a July 10 Facebook post, the town welcomed visitors and encouraged distancing and frequent sanitizing.
According to Sylvan Lake Visitor Services, the area normally welcomes more than 760,000 visitors over the summer.
Sylvan Lake is 160 kilometres south of Edmonton and 18 kilometres west of Red Deer.