The National Capital Commission (NCC) is asking people to consider getting their fill of fall colours somewhere other than Gatineau Park this year, or at least visit on a weekday.
Free shuttle buses to tour the park's annual "Fall Rhapsody" have been cancelled this weekend over pandemic concerns, the NCC announced Friday.
"To reduce congestion and crowding, especially because of the pandemic, this year we are encouraging people to experience the fall colours in places other than Gatineau Park," the NCC said in a news release Friday.
This year we are encouraging people to experience the fall colours in places other than Gatineau Park. - NCC
"If you decide to visit Gatineau Park during this period, it's best to go on a weekday, and to head for Meech Creek Valley, Philippe Lake or Luskville Falls."
The Fall Rhapsody shuttles were supposed to begin Saturday and run until Oct. 25, but the NCC says it will re-evaluate the visits before each weekend along with public health officials and the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO), which runs the buses.
Other parkways to remain closed on weekends
The news comes as COVID-19 cases surge in both Ottawa and the Outaouais.
To help with physical distancing, the NCC has also announced it will also extend partial weekend closures of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and the Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier parkways until Oct. 12, Thanksgiving Monday. Those parkways will be closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends to give people more room to walk, run and cycle.
Most Gatineau Park parkways will remain open to vehicular traffic daily noon until 30 minutes after sunset. The North Loop is open to vehicles from Monday to Thursday at all times.
During weekdays, Fortune Lake Parkway will be closed due to construction from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., and parking lot P10 will also be closed.
Visitors can check the park's Twitter feed or call the visitor centre to find out changes to the park's schedule. The NCC's website will have a list of places people can visit while following public health guidelines.