Peace Island Park reopens June 5

Peace Island Park will reopen to campers and day use Friday, June 5.

The reopening will see strict guidelines and COVID-19 safety measures in place. That includes a limit on campsite availability, as well as a ban on large gatherings including weddings, reunions, and grad celebrations. The number of units allowed per campsite will also be limited, while the pavilion, Rocky Mountain fort and store, and island gazebo will remain closed. Playgrounds will be open, as will garbage receptacles and outhouses,

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An addendum was adopted from the plan submitted May 19 by the park caretakers.

“I think it outlines pretty good the variations that are going to happen,” Coun. Betty Ponto said during council discussions on June 1.

There will be 131 regular sites and eight group sites available to the public. Campers are encouraged to use RVs, and be as self-contained as possible.

Four RVs will be allowed per group site, with one RV per regular site. Tenting is also permitted, but only for campers attached to RVs. 

Picnic tables were planned to be removed, but will be staying in place for now. Washrooms will be reopen to the public, but the district advises RV campers use their own bathrooms. 

Good behaviour from the public is also expected, or further restrictions will be enforced, says CAO Andrew Young. 

"We're looking forward to the summer, people have been stuck inside for a long time," said Young, adding park caretakers will be providing orientations on the COVID-19 restrictions this camping season.

Council has been concerned about recovering the costs of operating the park this year.

The District has budgeted $189,000 for caretakers as well as maintenance and utilities, with hopes to recover costs by slowly reopening to full capacity.

District staff estimate the park could still generate $120,000 in revenue this season, though that won't include revenue from its regular high-profile long weekend events, including the gold panning championships and the jet boat races.

The plan accounts for the park to be open over 20 weekends through to Oct. 17, and operating at 68% capacity during the high-use weekends.

The district did not anticipate park revenue in its 2020 budget, "therefore any revenue generated by the park this year would help offset park maintenance/operating expenses," parks director Mike Farquharson noted in a report to council.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

[Reader's note: Article updated and corrected to note playground equipment will be open, as will garbage receptacles and outhouses; and to update and correct that campsites will be open for RVs only, with tenting permitted only for those campers attached to RVs.]

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