All Waskesiu businesses temporarily closed
Prince Albert National Park is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.
WASKESIU -- Provincial closure orders of restaurants and a national order to close the national parks has led all of the businesses in the Waskesiu town site to temporarily shut down.
People looking to enjoy a day in nature during the pandemic, are advised to stay out of the national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites in Canada. Parks Canada has closed all of its sites to the public due to concerns over the transmission of COVID-19.
“I think it's a responsible thing to do we're following the lead and recommendations of health experts that are talking to our governments, provincial and federal,” said Gordon Buckert, vice-chair of the Waskesiu Chamber of Commerce.
Even though the province allow lodging establishments and hotels to stay open as an essential service, Buckert has temporarily closed his cabin rental business, Lost Creek Resort to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We think that safety for our staff and park visitors is the most important thing,” Buckert said.
Typically this time of year, Lost Creek Resort hosted people who like cross-country skiing and hiking in Prince Albert National Park.
Red tape around the playground equipment on the beach tells to the public to stay out.
On March 25, Parks Canada agency issued an order closing all national parks and historic sites to visitors and motor vehicle traffic. Permanent residents are allowed at the site within communities.
Parks Canada Agency made the decision to close roads to traffic, parking lots and trails after a decision had been made to suspend operations and close visitor service centres and washrooms, according to Ed Jager, National Director of Visitor Experience.
A spike in visitors crowding parking lots in places like Banff and Jasper during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the decision.
“Like the last two weekend in some locations in public areas, a large amount of people in parking lots in public areas, and often times those people have had trouble putting the physical distancing measures that public health experts have recommended,” said Jager. “It’s sort of been based on that that Parks Canada have made these decisions. We really have to do our part to make sure the spread of COVID-19 is limited.”
In Waskesiu, permanent resident are allowed in and visitors are advised to stay at home.
“If people want to go for a walk or a bike ride and they live in a national park, they can do that but it really isn’t a good idea for people to be travelling at this time,” said Jager.
Park Canada’s Visitor Services Centre, washroom, parking lots, campground, camp kitchen facilities and hiking trails are closed. People are asked not to come go into the backcountry because emergency services are also scaled back.
“Search as rescue services at this time are limited, running a risk of putting increase pressure on the medical system and that’s not what we want to do right now,” Jager said.
Buckert said he is concerned the COVID-19 Pandemic and closure orders will have long term effects on businesses in the community.
“If this does go into the summer, there will be hardships for sure with most businesses and I am definitely in that boat,” Buckert said.
Parks Canada won’t speculate on how long the closure will last and is following the directions of Health Canada. People with camping reservations will be notified if there are postponements or cancelations.
What facilities are closed in Prince Albert National Park?
Park Entrance Gate Kiosks
All washroom and shower facilities including outhouses at day-use areas
Playground at Waskesiu main beach
Trails, trailheads and day use areas
Gates are closed to day-use areas such as Paignton Beach, Trippes Beach, Birch Bay and South Bay; facilities are not maintained and all washrooms are closed.
All enclosed kitchen shelters are closed: Waskesiu Main beach, Paignton Beach, Birch Bay, South End (Kingsmere), Crean day-use and Crean Kitchen.
Camping facilities, including backcountry camping, are closed until April 30, 2020.
Road access along the Northshore/Kingsmere Road and the Narrows Road is suspended/restricted or limited to local traffic only. All visitor facilities in those areas are closed.
What is still open in Prince Albert National Park?
Parks Canada continues to deliver critical functions, but capacity for these services is limited.
Highway management and snow removal
Water and waste treatment
What emergency services are active?
The RCMP, Parks Canada Law Enforcement, the Waskesiu Fire Department and Medical First Responder Services are all active. Please dial 911 in a life threatening emergency.
For safety, wildlife, or wildfire incidents call Parks Canada dispatch at 1-877-852-3100.
What about my camping reservation for this season?
You do not need to cancel this reservation. You are encouraged to check back closer to your arrival regarding cancellations. Parks Canada has stopped taking new reservations until further notice.