People hoping to spend some of their summer holidays at municipal campgrounds will need to book quickly to guarantee a site.
According to County of St. Paul Director of Parks and Recreation Tim Mahdiuk, the online reservation system the County uses had some glitches when reservations first opened at 8 a.m. on Monday “because they were kind of overwhelmed and they weren’t expecting the volume of traffic.”
He said they were able to get the system working effectively after about the first half hour and went on to have 430 reservations made using the online system on the first day. He said many of the reservations are from returning campers who have visited in previous years.
“A couple of parks are filling up to capacity where you’re probably going to have a hard time getting in,” said Mahdiuk. Specifically, he said Lac Bellevue and Floating Stone Lake were both filling up quickly, but there are still vacancies at Stoney Lake and West Cove.
A brief review of the availability at County of St. Paul campgrounds on Camp Reservations Canada shows that for weekends especially, camp sites are filling up fast.
According to Mahdiuk, there are a few factors contributing to the reservations. He said part of it is that the County is using an online booking system now so it is much more convenient for people to make their plans and pay for their camp sites.
“One of the features we did with the camp reservation system this year is that they do have an interactive map so it makes it really easy for users to get in there. They key in the date that they’d like to go and which Park they’d like to go to. Then when the map comes up it’s populated by what’s booked and what’s not booked,” said Mahdiuk.
Another factor which he thinks is impacting the number of reservations is COVID-19 and people recognizing that they need to find things to do closer to home, so they are taking more advantage of the municipal campgrounds.
Asked if there would be any limitations to the amenities available at the campgrounds this year, Mahdiuk said they are hoping to have all amenities open for business as usual at their campgrounds, but will of course be following the provincial COVID-19 regulations.
“Things may change, we may have to delay the opening of some of our amenities to later on in the season but we’ll take it day by day and feel it looks toward the end of April,” he said.
He noted it is important for campers to be familiar with the rules for the campgrounds before they arrive so they know what to expect, for example, the County locks the gates to their camp grounds at 11 p.m. There is a park attendant on site 24/7 who can let people in and out if there is an emergency.
“But locking the gates, that’s to protect people from not coming in there at two or three o’clock in the morning and all of a sudden you’re missing camping equipment or missing something from your campsite because somebody was rummaging through the park,” said Mahdiuk.
He said another big one to be aware of is that the county campgrounds are all family-oriented spaces, and they ask people to respect the quiet hours from 11 p.m. until 8 a.m.
Provincial reservations open
Reservations for provincially operated campgrounds opened on Mar. 4, but campers are limited to bookings within the next 90 days.
According to AlbertaParks.ca shower facilities will remain closed for the 2021 camping season, as are warming huts and picnic shelters in day use areas of parks. Group camping and sites with shared amenities will also be closed for the season unless the group gathering restrictions in place area eased.