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Alberta campgrounds struggle with capacity restrictions: ‘Everybody is suffering right now’

Alberta campgrounds struggle with keeping portion of sites open on long weekend due to COVID-19 rules
WATCH: It’s the first Victoria Day long weekend since the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Alberta campgrounds are now operating under different rules. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports on the few campgrounds in the Calgary area that were open and what it means to their bottom line.

Alberta campground owners are dealing with the new reality of having to keep some of their sites unoccupied due to COVID-19 regulations.

The owner of Riverbend Campground near Okotoks was forced to block off more than 30 sites to make sure there was space for social distancing.

“We could have used every site,” said owner Marilyn Couture.  “We turned so many down.

“We got as many people as we could at a distance. It was hard because you hate giving up sites and saying you can’t rent them but we just blocked them on the computer and when people called there were no longer any sites available.”

READ MORE: Alberta campers ready to book campgrounds for June 1 opening

It was a different story over at Calgary West Campground, where only 15 per cent of the sites were booked this long weekend.The campground by the west city limits relies heavily on international and out-of-province guests and has lost many of its Stampede week reservations.“It’s so sad. Usually at this time you see children walking around and people outside barbecuing and happy but now it is so quiet,” said manager Mei Lam.
Private Alberta campgrounds allowed to stay open during COVID-19 crisis
Private Alberta campgrounds allowed to stay open during COVID-19 crisis
Campers and staff at Riverbend said it was business as usual this May long weekend, with people just spending time further apart.
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“Overall everybody was really good. They were self distancing and staying out of trouble,” said Couture.
Shelly and Riley Graham said it was important to get away and enjoy the peace and quiet at Riverbend Campground.
“I am an essential worker so it was nice to get a break. It was actually really good and we all kept our distance,” said Shelly Graham from her campsite on Monday.
On the long weekend, Calgary West Campground and Riverbend Campground were only open to fully contained units but the washrooms just opened up again at Riverbend on Friday along with the mini golf.
But Riverbend’s owner worries that keeping sites closed through the summer for social distancing is going to hurt.
“It is going to be a kicking.
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“But we are open now and something is better than nothing. Everybody is suffering right now,” Couture said.
Provincial park campsites are expected to be open on June 1.