Advertisement

Saskatchewan parks set for busy summer. Here’s what to expect

The Saskatchewan parks experience will be a little different this year, with new safety protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Saskatchewan parks experience will be a little different this year, with new safety protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. File / Global News

Provincial parks staff are gearing up for a busy summer, as Saskatchewan residents look for reprieve from seemingly endless hours spent indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have immense pride about being that place for Saskatchewan people where they can come, get outdoors [and] recuperate from such a challenging and stressful time,” said Robin Campese, executive director of visitor experience for Saskatchewan Parks.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Gyms, restaurants set to open in Saskatchewan on June 8

“Nature is very rehabilitating. You can come and some of the stress of the last few months will hopefully roll away.”

Parks have been open for activities like hiking, biking and fishing in select locations since May 4.

20,000 campsite reservations

Come June 1, campsites will open, though half of them will remain closed to support physical distancing.

Story continues below advertisement

There were about 20,000 campsite reservations during the first couple weeks of online bookings, Campese said. Last spring, there were about 28,000 reservations in the same time period.

“It was a very busy reservation launch considering that 50 per cent of our inventory was not available,” Campese said.

READ MORE: Camping in Saskatchewan to look different under first phase of reopen plan

Weekends in July and August will likely be the busiest, she said, with high demand for full-service sites.

“Those peak times are going to be very busy and it might be tough to get a site,” she said.

“We’re taking advice from the chief medical health officer and public health officials. And maybe at some point this summer, we might be able to release a bit more inventory.”

New safety protocols

The parks experience will be a little different this summer due to COVID-19 safety protocols highlighted in Saskatchewan’s re-opening plan.

In addition to limited campsite availability, public areas like beaches, playgrounds, and shower and laundry facilities will be closed.

Story continues below advertisement

Bathrooms will be open, Campese said, with enhanced cleaning protocols in place for all high-touch areas.

Park rangers are roaming the parks, keeping an eye out for public health order violations.

Enforcement staff issued many safety reminders over the May long weekend, which saw people flock to parks near urban centres, Campese said.

“Hopefully, people have been … up to speed and trained in that behaviour, and we’re hoping they’ll continue that with their park visits,” she said.

Saskatchewan residents only

Provincial parks are open only to Saskatchewan residents.

People who book campsite reservations online are asked to confirm that they live in the province.

The rule is based on the honours system, Campese said, as requesting identification at park gates would increase contact between staff and visitors.

People who have an annual park permit and site reservation can drive directly to their campsite without stopping at visitor reception, she said.