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Wet June means struggles for Calgary area outdoor businesses, campgrounds

Wet weather clears out some Alberta campgrounds for Canada Day
Albertans really can't be fairweather campers. It's downright soggy and waterlogged at sites across the province. But those who toughed it out insist rain isn't going to ruin Canada Day camping. Jill Croteau reports form Carseland.

June 2020 has been a wet one for Calgary and the surrounding area, and that means an additional struggle for businesses already facing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As of midnight [June 30] we have had 142.6 millimetres of rain in June. Normal is 94 millimetres,” Global Calgary weather expert Paul Dunphy said.

And that’s not counting the downpour throughout the day Tuesday.

Read more: Alberta government to offer disaster support following ‘tragic’ thunderstorm in Calgary and area

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It’s been tough on outdoor businesses that rely on good weather to bring in customers, many of which are just recently reopening as COVID-19 restrictions start to ease.

Downhill Karting at Calgary’s Skyline Luge opened last week.

“It’s been pretty slow with the rain, and the thunder and lightning we’ve had hasn’t been great,” general manager James Dudfield said. “But we’re optimists, we just hope summer rolls around, Mother Nature plays her part and we can have some good fun.”

It was perfect for 12-year-old birthday boy Nate Morris, who basically had a private downhill karting party with his brother and mom Tuesday, as there was no one else in line.

“It’s really fun and I would come back here everyday,” Morris said with a big smile. “Even if it’s raining.”

READ MORE: Severe flooding, damage in Calgary after thunderstorm Saturday

Many golf courses across Calgary opened in May after getting the green light from the province.

Phones have been ringing off the hook for tee times at Fox Hollow, The Winston Golf Club and other courses in the city whenever the weather is nice.

The Winston Golf Club actually saw record numbers in May with 1,400 more rounds than the course has ever seen before.

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But the wet weather in June has slowed things down.

“It’s definitely hitting the bottom line,” Fox Hollow head golf pro Greg Griffith said. “We lost a month of revenue in April basically [due to COVID-19]. You expect a few rainout days, but this was a lot of rainout days for June, a lot more than normal.”

The campground in Carseland was nearly deserted ahead of the Canada Day holiday, with only about two-dozen campers toughing it out. The Wyndam Carseland Campground Provincial Park has 100 campsites for both RV’s and tents.

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Ken Huff is used to surviving the elements and doesn’t let any kind of weather stop him.

“I’ve spent 20 years in the army so this is glamping right? I’m used to the rain and used to the wind, this is nothing,” Huff said. “A lot of others packed up a couple of nights ago. But I schedule my holidays six months in advance and no matter what the weather is like, I’m going camping.”

Read more: Calgary’s June rainfall totals surpass monthly average after Sunday thunderstorms

Reese Mills, nine, is staying in her grandparent’s luxury motorhome. Her grandmother, Jan Doiron, said they camp all year round.

“This isn’t exactly tenting. We’re lucky we have a nice indoor kitchen we can stay out of the rain. We are all set for a campfire and our kindling is nice and dry,” Doiron said. “It’s pretty hard to rough it when you’ve got all the comforts of home right here.”

“It’s cold but it’s fun to play in the rain and puddles,” Mills said.

Even those in tents who can’t truly escape the wet conditions are toughing it out. Peter Moran Lavallee and his daughter, Marley were visiting from Saskatchewan and said they like to hunker down all summer long.

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“Only if the tent leaks and we forget to tie down the straps it will get wet inside and then we will have to get a hotel until it dries or something. Normally will have a spare one,” Moran Lavallee said.

COVID-19 pandemic has more Albertans looking at camping on Crown land
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Some campgrounds throughout Alberta are only booking out every other site to comply to the COVID-19 health regulations keeping campers physically distanced.

While we have seen more rain that normal, this June wasn’t a record breaker, according to Dunphy.

“The wettest June on record was in 2005 when we got 248 mm of rain.”