Municipal campgrounds in the area are having a good year. Both the County of St. Paul and the M.D. of Bonnyville are reporting increased bookings
Visitors are coming from the local area and from Alberta as a whole. Rodney Guilbault, parks manager for the M.D. of Bonnyville, says Covid-19 restrictions have people looking closer to home for recreation.
“The numbers seem to be up from last year just due to Covid,” he said. “People are not travelling out of province. We’re finding lots of people are using our local facilities and travelling just within our province.”
The County of St. Paul is having a similar experience with its campgrounds. Arlene Shwetz, communications coordinator for the county, says local people are discovering
what they have right at their own doorsteps.
“I was at Floatingstone two Fridays ago and was talking to some people on the beach. I asked them if they were camping and they said yes,” she said. “And I asked them where they were from and they said, oh, we live 20 minutes away.”
County staff have also met campers who are visiting the area for the first time.
“So we’re getting people locally and we’re getting people from farther away,” Shwetz said.
Municipal campgrounds might not be as well-known provincewide as Alberta’s provincial park system, but the County of St. Paul and the M.D. of Bonnyville operate some genuine jewels. The cost of camping is also attractive for those seeking a “stay-cation.”
“Our rates are pretty reasonable, so that’s another thing where people are looking at the rates and the availability,” Shwetz said.
“I just got an e-mail from someone who had just stayed at Floatingstone for a week and was looking at coming back next year for a month. And he was just very, very complimentary about the sites and the staff and just the whole camping experience out at our campgrounds.”
The good weather and the increased usage have kept park staff busy making sure they comply with pandemic safety precautions. The county and the M.D. both have some restrictions in place and some adjustments to service delivery, all designed to keep campers safe.
“We’re finding a little bit of challenges due to Covid, the extra traffic that we have been seeing has added some challenges,” Guilbault said. “Trying to keep up with the guidelines and regulations for Covid has probably been the only thing that we’ve been facing. Otherwise, it’s been a good year for us.”