Regional parks prepare for camping season

Regional parks in southeast Saskatchewan are looking forward to the start of camping season June 1.

The provincial government, in its Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan released last month, included the opening of campgrounds in Phase 2 of the initiative, although the campgrounds would have to meet some criteria once they open.

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The regulations stipulate that seasonal campers are welcome, but campers will have to maintain social distancing. Short-term campsites will only be allowed to have 50 per cent occupancy.

Also, only Saskatchewan residents will be able to camp, as inter-provincial travel is not recommended at this time.

Maureen Daoust, who is the business manager at Woodlawn Regional Park, said they want to adhere to the government mandates.

“Our seasonal campers are pretty excited,” Daoust told the Mercury. “We’re pretty excited. We’re very happy with the unveilling of Re-Open Saskatchewan and the phases, and that we can open the park.”

Campers can’t wait to get to the park for the season.

Some of their amenities will have to be closed, including the beach at the Boundary Dam Recreation Site, playground structures, the Fresh Air Fitness outdoor gym and shower facilities. The closure of showers means that Woodlawn won’t be able to have tent users for the time being.

“We are a full-service campground, so everyone can hook up their RV to sewer and potable water,” said Daoust. 

Rental halls and washrooms won’t be open on June 1, either.

Their gate house will be open and staffed for June 1. The maintenance crew will have to be scaled back a little bit, which she views as unfortunate.

Bob Goodward, the board chair at the Moose Creek Regional Park, said they are looking forward to the start of the camping season. A couple of big attractions at the park – the Alameda Dam boat launch and the Moose Creek Golf Course – have opened already.

The park received a lot of phone calls once it was announced when they would be able to open for the season.

Moose Creek has about 265 campsites. Approximately 230 of them are full-time seasonals, and the rest are for short-term campsites.

Goodward said the seasonal campers are aware they’ll have to follow new restrictions.

“They will still have to follow the rules. It’s no different than living in their house in town. Social distancing and whatever the rules of the government are still in place at that time.”

Many of the seasonal campers have their units out at the park throughout the year as well. 

The lack of tenting won’t leave a big impact on the park, because they only have two tenting sites.

Their beach, playground, fish filleting shack and play structure will be closed.

Donna Frank, the manager of Mainprize Regional Park, said they were pleased that the government made a decision, rather than leaving it up to the individual regional parks.

“People have been booking for a little while. We’ve had to do a little bit of rearranging. Other than that, getting ready is a little different this year because services are scaled back.”

It won’t be business as usual at the park, but from what she has heard from campers, they’re happy and they’re looking forward to coming out to the campgrounds, and going fishing and golfing, even with the restrictions that are in place, and talking to people once again.

Mainprize has 186 seasonal campsites and approximately 40 overnight sites and another 30 in overflow for overnight and short-term campers. The cabins in the park are privately owned.

Public areas such as the beach will still be closed. Campers will need to have the capabilities for sewer and water. A few family reunions have had to be cancelled.

People who have been calling want to know how soon they can get out there.

As restrictions are modified as the summer progresses, Frank hopes they can start having events for children this summer.

Suzanne Brown, manager of the Oungre Memorial Regional Park, said it won’t be business as usual, and most of the summer functions, such as reunions, weddings and socials, had to be cancelled.

People will have to get used to social distancing, and so it will certainly be a different summer. 

Among the amenities that will be open for campers during the summer will be the golf course.

Brown said they haven’t received a lot of questions, as the information is posted on the Sask. Regional Parks website and the Oungre Memorial Regional Park website, and most people are aware of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan and how it will affect them.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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