SLPC plans for solar eclipse event at Crysler's Farm

MORRISBURG – A solar eclipse that will darken the region on April 8 is becoming a opportunity for area tourism businesses, including the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.

The celestial event, which will not pass through this region again for over 100 years, means that an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 eclipse viewers may visit along the St. Lawrence River. The eclipse misses much of Montréal, and avoids Ottawa and Toronto, running along the St. Lawrence River and across Lake Ontario.

SLPC properties along the St. Lawrence River fall on the path of totality, including Crysler’s Farm Battlefield Park next to Upper Canada Village near Morrisburg.

Geoff Waycik, director of historic sites for the SLPC explained that the battlefield memorial will be open for the day with paid parking.

“The only cost to viewers will be for parking,” he said. “Collecting a parking fee will help manage the number of vehicles looking to park and will help cover the operational costs required to safely host a large number of visitors at our site during the off-season.”

To prepare for the potential number of visitors, the SLPC has acquired 10,000 approved solar viewing glasses for guests.

Waycik said that with the number of visitors anticipated, carpooling or using buses to reach the site is encouraged.

“This will both help keep traffic in our small communities here more manageable and allow as many people to attend this phenomenon as possible,” he said.

Other plans may be in the works.

“Talks with SDG Counties and partners continue and meetings are ongoing. We are committed to collaborating with our partners to ensure safety and enjoyment for all,” he said.

During the February 20 SDG Counties council meeting, a discussion about the coordination between different provincial and municipal entities took place. Councillor Jason Broad (South Dundas) spoke of the coordination with OPP and the Ministry of Transportation regarding traffic concerns, and that emergency management is looking to ensure that services like land ambulances will have a clear path in the region if needed.

SDG Counties staff recommended at the council meeting that residents of the region should remain home when the eclipse occurred, saying that those in the path of totality will have a good view of it from their own property. The region’s school boards have already rescheduled a planned PA Day to coincide with the April 8 eclipse, to avoid children on buses possibly viewing the eclipse without proper eye protection.

The eclipse will enter the partial phase at approximately 2:12 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. This is one of the two times that it will be dangerous to look directly at the eclipse with unprotected eyes as the moon will begin to enter the path of the sun. At 3:24:29 p.m. EDT, the totality of the eclipse will begin. At this point, protective eyeware can be removed. The totality will last two minutes and seven seconds before entering the declining partial phase. Eyeware must be used again to view the eclipse at this point.

To see an animation of what the eclipse will be like when viewed from Morrisburg, visit http://tinyurl.com/MorrisburgEclipse

Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader