by Morinville News Staff
The province is temporarily suspending automobile access at access points to all provincial parks as well as provincial recreation areas. The government says last weekend revealed a disturbing trend of people not exercising physical distancing and leaving behind garbage and human waste in some provincial parks.
The restrictions came into effect Mar. 27 at 1 p.m. through two ministerial orders. The province says they were put in place to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and are the same restrictions currently in place at national parks.
The suspension applies to motor vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas. The government is advising Albertans to choose recreation opportunities close to home, includng going for a walk in their neighbourhood. However, if they do travel to provincial parks or recreation sites, access is by non-motorized means only.
Albertans who choose to access the province’s parks and recreation areas should follow the advice of government health experts on physical distancing and public gatherings.
“We understand the need to get outdoors, but now is not the time to visit our provincial parks and recreation areas without abiding by common-sense public health and safety measures,” said Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon. “We are asking all Albertans to assist us by complying with the public access restriction and to stay home during this critical time. If you have plans to travel to a provincial park or provincial recreation area, please rethink your plans. We all need to do our part to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable Albertans, including ensuring protective gear is available for the service providers that need it most. If you decide to access parks and recreation areas at this time, please leave the area better than how you found it.”
The government says the restrictions do not apply to forestry or oil and gas operations. Access for First Nations and identified Metis Harvesters is still permitted. Physical distancing and mass gathering restrictions still apply.
The government says enforcement officers will be doing routine checks in provincial parks and on public land to support education and awareness on the temporary closure. Officers can issue fines for non-compliance if required.