The packed beach over the weekend was a cause for concern for man, and has caused the Town of Sylvan Lake to search for clear direction from the Province on situations such as this.
In a press release issued July 13, the Town said they have reached out to the Province for “clear direction” and to identify potential solutions which will allow for the continued enjoyment of the lake and have local businesses continue to operate.
Concern for public well-being was sparked after pictures taken on Saturday circulated on social media. The photo depicted a busy beach front with many not social distancing and no masks being worn.
did yall see sylvan lake today 💀💀💀 pic.twitter.com/UzQApqOhAH
— 🤍 c. (@crishiallie) July 11, 2020
Comments from the social media posts say the image is reminiscent of those seen in Florida, which is seeing huge daily increases of those testing positive for COVID-19.
The images and comments had Sylvan Lake trending on Twitter Sunday as a result.
— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) July 12, 2020
After seeing photos of Sylvan lake this weekend, we are in no position to judge Florida.
— Steven Kwasny (@stevekwasny) July 12, 2020
The Town says large crowds in Sylvan Lake during the summer are “commonplace” and they expect the number of visitors in the lakefront area was close, or at, to capacity.
“While the Town is disappointed with those who did not follow best health and safety practices on the weekend; we are aware of, and observed first hand, many that were enjoying the waterfront responsibly, so thank you,” the Town is in a press release.
The press release goes on to say those who are unable or unwilling to follow to the protocols set by Alberta Health, keeping two metre social or physical distance from those outside the family cohort, “must reconsider visiting our community.”
CAO Wally Ferris said only RCMP and Alberta Health are able to enforce how visitors comply with the social distancing mandate.
“Controlling social behaviour is tremendously difficult; we neither have the jurisdiction, nor the resources, to manage and enforce behaviour… but we want to be clear: from what we observed on the weekend – the sheer number of people, enforcement alone is not the solution,” Ferris said.
Over the weekend Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre responded to a comment on his Facebook page that said the Town should do better at controlling the number of people at the lake.
McIntyre’s response said the Town does not have the authority to keep people off of the beach.
“The province also increased the size of groups to up to 200. It is difficult to tell where one group begins and the other group ends,” McIntyre said on Facebook.
McIntyre, who was down at the beach on Saturday, said that the area may have looked jam-packed, but there were actually gaps in between families.
“The public has been told they can form family cohorts of up to 15, to stay-cation within the province, and to support their local economies. With this, larger crowds at destinations like Sylvan Lake, are bound to happen, and we’re committed to working together to identify possible solutions to make our public spaces safer,” the Town said.