Sask. park attendance higher than national average, Wascana Park to become one-way

Canadians as a whole are heading outside to parks less, but its a different story in Saskatchewan.

Residents in the province are heading to parks 45 per cent more than usual, according to a March 29 Google Mobility Report that tracked people's location data. The report found nationally, Canadians were going to parks 16 per cent less than the average baseline. 

Google says its data tracks mobility trends for places like national parks, public beaches, marinas, dog parks, plazas and public gardens. 

Saskatchewan's increase was behind only Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which were up 95 per cent and 101 per cent respectfully.

 

Crowding can become an issue at local parks. Earlier this week, residents raised issues with how close people were to each other at Wascana Park in Regina.

The Provincial Capital Commission (PCC), which operates the Wascana Park Authority, is taking action to help stop the spread of the coronavirus while still allowing people to enjoy the park. 

Starting on Saturday, Wascana Park's main trail will be changed to one-way pedestrian traffic. 

"We wanted to create an environment that supports those social distancing practices," PCC CEO Monique Goffinet Miller told CBC Saskatchewan's The Morning Edition.

"We had signs up around the park that we were talking about and educating people on that recommendation of two meters apart, but it just wasn't seeming to be enough."

Kirk Fraser/CBC

Miller said people will walk clockwise around the lake. She said there will be maps in all parking lots and directional arrows. 

She said she hopes people will check out some of the other trails in the 2,300 acre park, including some smaller trails that won't be one-ways.

Miller noted that some trails are ecological zones and bird sanctuaries and asked people to be mindful.

Kirk Fraser/CBC

Miller said there will not be staff members watching for compliance. She said the commission is watching other jurisdictions and seeing that people are following the rules.

"We want to make sure and reassure people that our focus is to create that environment that supports that safe practice," Miller said. "And we want to keep [the park] open as long as possible."

Regina mayor requests 'stay-at-home' declaration

Regina Mayor Michael Fougere is going further, asking the province to implement a 'stay-at-home' declaration that would only allow people to leave their homes to buy groceries or other essential services.

Fougere told reporters on Wednesday that such a declaration would help residents understand the severity of the situation. He said city council doesn't have the authority to implement it.

"We ask advocates to look in the mirror and understand how serious this is," he said. "You can see what's happening in other provinces — you see what's happening around the world. We are not immune from any of that." 

Kirk Fraser/CBC