More to do, but more police: Long weekend kicks off unofficial start to summer

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More to do, but more police: Long weekend kicks off unofficial start to summer

For many in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Victoria Day long weekend marks the unofficial start of summer, which means both more fun things to do — but also more police officers patrolling the province's roads and highways.

"Make sure people are not under the influence of alcohol ... and adhering to all the rules of the road," said RNC Sgt. Paul Didham as police and the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation set up a checkpoint near Bay Bulls Friday.

The traffic stop, which involved both the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP, was also checking to make sure vehicles were in good working order.

This year marks Canada's 150 birthday, and national historic sites and national parks all open this weekend and are free all season long.

"It's seen as kind of a birthday gift to the country, and to give people a chance to get out to the parks and national historic sites if they may not have in the past," said Glenn Keough, who is visitor experience and historic sites manager with Parks Canada. 

"There is an awful lot more to see, not only with the new activities that we have but we've done an awful lot of work over the last couple of years and we will continue to do upgrades at the national historic sites and the parks."

New interactive programs will be taking place all summer at Cape Spear and Signal Hill, with workshops on how to made bread and butter, as well as a special Canada Day breakfast on July 1.

Increased traffic enforcement

The Victoria Day weekend is also a busy weekend on the province's highways, and this year it also falls on the RCMP's Canada Road Safety Week.

"Our focus is to be out there, to be visible, and to keep the public safe," says RCMP Cpl. Trevor O'Keefe.

"We're going to be looking at high-risk driving behaviours all weekend, and we're going to be stopping vehicles from traffic stops and conducting lots of checkpoints."

O'Keefe said officers will be watching for aggressive and speeding drivers, distracted and impaired drivers, those without valid documentation, people not using seatbelts and vehicles that are not mechanically safe.

With snow in the forecast in central and western parts of Newfoundland, O'Keefe said people will really need to slow down.

"If you're going anywhere be patient, take your time and if you have to be somewhere at a certain time make sure you leave early enough to get there safe and sound," he said.  "You're certainly going to see us out there this weekend."