Crowded but mindful.
That’s what some beach-goers noticed about the crowds in Sylvan Lake Saturday afternoon.
People are doing their part, said Barry Tough, a Sylvan Lake resident.
He explained when you see the crowds at a glance, it seems like no one is social distancing, but when you walk closer, you’ll see the spaces between the groups.
“A quick picture – a sideways picture – may give you the impression that everybody is crowded together, but if you look at the blankets, there is six-feet between them.”
He said the beach was “as crowded as it can get” Saturday.
Early in July, the Town of Sylvan Lake started shutting down the parking lots around the beach once they are full to prevent overcrowding. The town did the same thing over the long weekend, as well as increased enforcement including bylaw and peace officers.
“Most people are conscious and they’re distancing and where they’re going and you’ll notice it on the sidewalks – they’ll spread to pass each other,” Tough said.
Another Sylvan Lake resident Kelly Sweet agreed with Tough’s thoughts.
She said it would be hard to keep people from the beach in the summer.
“Everybody is doing their part – they’re all trying to avoid each other,” she said. “But it’s a nice day and summers are short so everyone wants to take advantage of that.”
Sweet said she sees all sides of the issue: those coming from out of town help the local businesses as well as the importance of keeping case numbers low.
She said she doesn’t believe there should be restrictions on the number of people that can come to the beach.
“We do need people to come to Sylvan, because it’s so reliant on tourism,” she explained.
Referring to the town’s move of closing down parking lots once they were full, Sweet said, it wouldn’t necessarily stop people from coming, because they could park down the street.
“If my family wants to come out, I’d tell them to come park at my house and we’d come down. It kind of restricts the central area, but people are still going to come,” Sweet explained.
Karlie Bullock, an Edmonton resident, who was sitting on the far west side on Lakeshore Dr., away from the beach area, but still near the water, said she was doing her part to avoid the crowd.
“Physical distancing is important with the virus,” she said. “It’s a personal preference.”
While driving to Sylvan Lake, she noticed the signs that the parking lot was full, and chose to park a bit further away and walk to the beach.
Referring to Chestermere’s recent move to charge non-residents for their beach time, Bullock said, there are better ways to let everyone enjoy their time in the sun.
Rather than charging non-residents, there should be a time limit on how long you can park, which would give everyone a chance to take turns and enjoy the beach, she said.
“It’s how some public pools are doing it,” Bullock explained.