Sylvan Lake businesses plan to combat COVID-19 summer woes
The cancellation of summer events and health guidelines put a restraint on the busy summer months
KAYLYN WHIBBS LOCAL NEWS NEWS
May. 12, 2020 3:00 p.m.
Local businesses will have to overcome the challenges that come with the cancelled events in Sylvan Lake this summer. Dave Phillips, Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce president, says the news from the Town cancelling the summer events wasn’t what anyone wanted to hear and it is frustrating, but the chamber supports the decision.
“Our main priority is public health too and in the interest of being socially responsible we recognize that these events drive traffic and tourism to Sylvan Lake and while that helps business it could also help the transmission of the virus,” said Phillips in a phone interview. The Town’s cancellations include 1913 Days, Canada Day Celebrations and Jaws at the Lake. Phillips says the summer will be challenging without the big tourist draw, but many businesses are still open and figuring out creative ways to battle the situation.
“One of the saving graces the Sylvan Lake business community has is that they are hyper-resilient, hyper-vibrant and very creative,” explained Phillips. “We’ve already seen this as businesses have been re-tooling and changing many of their core issues and services and we applied them for all their creative approaches to this.”
Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash, which relies on the summer months and tourist traffic year, is sitting tight as they wait to determine the fate of the season. Charlie Everest, Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash owner, says they would not open if they didn’t have the blessing of the municipal government. “If the Town are still discouraging tourists then we would definitely be with them and stay closed,” said Everest. “We don’t want to try and attract tourists if the municipality is saying ‘no keep away.’”
Everest says whether or not they will open this year relies on several puzzle pieces such as the municipal government, the guidelines from the provincial government and the potential of schools going back early in the fall. The business falls into the Stage Three category of the relaunch plan. If the Aqua Splash could open for the first week of July and schools didn’t go back early Everest says they will probably open.
“If the Town slowly starts opening lime in Stage Three and stuff with all the other events that are closed, the Westerner, the Calgary Stampede, the Edmonton Exhibition, it could still be a fairly busy place this summer because Albertans really don’t have too many other options to do.” They will not be opening if the business will not make enough to be feasible in the allowable time, he added. The Sylvan Lake Aqua Splash was set to open to for school groups on June 13.
Within the decision-making process they will also look to their moral compass to make sure they’re doing what is right for the community as well as the health and safety of the people surrounding them. Phillips said business owners and community members have to have faith and patience while trying to refrain from becoming too frustrated. “It will be virtually impossible to look back on this and see whether or not we overrated, but it will be painfully apparent if we look back and see that we under-reacted,” said Phillips, adding a lot of the decisions are being made by the Emergency Command Centre (ECC).