Every weekend in August the Town of Sylvan Lake will be closing a section of Lakeshore Drive to allow for better physical distancing.
Town Council approved the plan during the July 27 regular meeting as a way to give residents and visitors more space to mill around.
Amanda Mercer, economic development officer with the Town, says the plan to close a few of blocks of Lakeshore Drive on Saturdays and Sundays in August will address the busiest days by the lake.
“We’ve witnessed the weekends are by far tour busiest days, and pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders have a hard time moving about while social distancing,” Mercer said.
The street will be closed to vehicles beginning Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. and will remain closed until 10:30 p.m. Sunday night each week.
Lakeshore Drive will be closed from 46 Street to Centennial Street each weekend beginning this Saturday.
Mercer said the choice to close the street on the Town’s busiest days will help reduce the traffic flow, give pedestrians more room to walk around and ensure the health and safety of both residents and visitors.
She continued, saying closing a section of the street will not hurt tourism in the town, instead it will make visitors feel safe in their choice to visit Sylvan Lake.
“What we know is that maintaining safety is crucially important to travellers… this year especially,” Mercer said. “Travellers are seeking out places that are quiet and puts their safety first.”
The closing of the street will also give a unique opportunity to business owners along that stretch.
The Town will be allowing businesses to apply to extend their patios onto the sidewalk, on the weekends only.
Mercer says she will be working with businesses and AGLC to expedite applications.
“We are pretty excited about this part… I am hoping we will begin to see a couple [patios] pop up in the next week or so.”
There will be no outdoor entertainment from the expanded patios or the shut down street, Mercer says. Alberta Health says outdoor entertainment is not allowed right now, at this stage of the Province’s relaunch plan.
However, expanding the patios out onto the sidewalks will give the street more ambiance and atmosphere, according to Mercer.
Parking lots on Lakeshore Drive will remain open on the weekends until the park is at or near capacity.
“When we close the parking lots we put up signs telling visitors to reconsider their visit to Sylvan Lake for another day. Or we direct them to the free public parking by the library and NexSource Centre,” Mercer said.