Businesses in Prince Albert National Park are gearing up for Victoria Day weekend and the summer, but due to recent power outages caused by the wildfire northeast of Prince Albert, preparations are becoming much more difficult.
“With the problems we had last year with COVID we weren’t able to open until June 8. This year was looking very smooth,” said Gary Gagne, owner of Restaurant Pietro, located in the park.
“But this a major hiccup for all the operators, everyone in the park.”
The Cloverdale fire caused several power outages throughout the area for most of the week, but as of about 9 p.m. Thursday, power was restored to all affected areas.
“Crews worked non-stop in adverse conditions to get power restored as quickly as safely possible,” SaskPower told Global News in an emailed statement Thursday. “We appreciated our customers’ patience while worked to get the power back on.”
During the outages, many businesses in the area — including those in the hamlet of Waskesiu Lake, located inside the park — were able to secure generators to save supplies.
“Obviously, generators are critical. We were very lucky the park assisted us with a diesel generator for our equipment,” Gagne said.
“It’s not big enough to run the restaurant, but we are able to keep the fresh food fresh and the frozen food frozen.”
According to Parks Canada, gates to Prince Albert National Park will be open this weekend, its “unofficial” kickoff to the season. However, the Waskesiu Chamber of Commerce advises visitors to check with businesses prior to arrival to ensure services are being offered.
“People are really wanting to get out here and everyone that I’ve already contacted (has said), ‘Yes, please keep us in the loop, we want to get there, fingers crossed,’” said Gord Bueckert, Waskesiu Chamber of Commerce president.
He said the Cloverdale fire has caused challenges, but the community is doing its best to rally around it.
“It’s inconvenient, but that’s what you do, you’ve got to put it all together because everyone’s coming (Friday),” Bueckert said.
More than 8,000 customers ranging from Prince Albert to La Ronge experienced power outages caused by the Cloverdale fire.
SaskPower crews were planning to have power back to all customers by 2 p.m. Thursday, but that deadline was delayed due to what SaskPower described as challenging and boggy terrain.