After weeks of advocacy, the City of Chestermere is pleased to announce that it is setting capacity limits on lakeside beaches under the authority of new provincial guidance.
While normally welcome, crowds in Chestermere’s parks are concerning in the midst of the pandemic as many visitors are not following the provincial physical distancing requirements voluntarily.
“We know that people want to enjoy the summer, but safety must come first,” says Chestermere Mayor Marshall Chalmers. “Without provincial guidance, we were restricted in our ability to enforce provincial distancing as these are public parks and beaches. Last week, we met with officials from the Ministry of Health, Alberta Health Services and Dr. Hinshaw to discuss how we can collaborate to find a solution to this challenge. We have appreciated their efforts to assist us in keeping our community safe.”
On Saturday morning, the City received a requested guidance document from the Province that enables municipalities and beach operators to enforce distancing and reduce overcrowding.
“City Council is committed to strong leadership. As soon as we received news that the Province had issued the guidance document, we made plans for an urgent Council meeting to implement our local restrictions under the provincial direction. By Saturday evening, we had issued our local orders and our team is now working to implement the new safety measures as quickly as possible,” says Chalmers.
The City of Chestermere is home to three lakeside parks that will have new maximum capacity limits to ensure that visitors can effectively distance from each other.
The maximum limit at Anniversary Park will be 615 people (115 on the beach), the maximum limit at Cove Beach will be 205 (39 on the beach) and the maximum at Sunset Park will be 483. If overcrowding continues to be a problem, the City may further limit or close beaches.
If visitors come to the park and it is at capacity, they will need to wait or come back later. There will not be a time limit on how long visitors can stay at the park once admitted.
The City will be controlling and monitoring capacity limits with fencing, designated entrances and exits, and staff. Security will be operating the entrances and exits on weekends. Additional safety measures being put into place include clear markings for lineups to bathrooms and showers, increased signage, more hand sanitizing stations, and limiting the number of people entering the washroom at a time. Washrooms and showers are already being cleaned and sanitized regularly.
The new measures are expected to be fully in place for next weekend.
“We know that summer is a short season in Alberta, and we want to ensure that our beaches and parks enable residents and visitors to enjoy the good weather in the safest possible way,” says Chalmers.
If you plan to visit a Chestermere beach or lakeside park, here is what you need to know:
- If you are sick, you must stay home. People who have travelled internationally in the last 14 days, or are a close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, are not permitted.
- Plan ahead. The beach may be full by the time you arrive, and you will need to wait or find alternate arrangements.
- Beaches and lakeside parks are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Booking a spot in advance is not an option.
- Visitors should always maintain 2 meters of physical distancing during all types of activities.
- Parking at Anniversary Park will be closed off to provide room for queuing and handicap parking. Visitors can park in the designated areas in the Rec Centre parking lot.
- Visitors are encouraged to wear a mask other than when they are in the water.
- The Province is currently advising that COVID-19 transmission through water is currently unknown, and people entering the water do so at their own risk.
- The Province advises beachgoers to avoid sharing items such as food, toys and supplies with people who don’t live with you.
- If visitors do not respect health regulations, the RCMP or public health inspectors are authorized to enforce orders under the Provincial Health Act. Visitors violating the orders will be asked to leave and may be fined. Regular patrols will be occurring in the parks and beaches. The City can also limit or close the beaches if necessary.
Visit www.chestermere.ca/beaches for capacity limits and more information.
Read the Provincial Beach Guidance Document before you arrive.
“COVID-19 could put an end to summer fun pretty quickly. Together, by demonstrating respect, following the new occupancy limits and practicing strong hygiene, we can all contribute to a fun and safe summer at the lake,” says Chalmers.