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26-Mar-2020

Improper social distancing prompts conservation area closures


hiking trail

MARCH 27, 2020 UPDATE: In light of the social and business related impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) has made the difficult decision to close all properties and trails to all visitors, including membership pass holders as well as day-use visitors, until further notice. “We have observed that with the warmer weather, increases in visitation have begun. While many visitors have respected social distancing measures, we have begun receiving reported concerns of large groups of people, illegal parking and people entering areas that are marked as closed. Further, in light of the COVID-19 situation, we have not yet ramped up our staffing services to address these visitation increases”, states Tim Lanthier, Chief Administrative Officer for the GSCA.

BY SOUTHGREY.CA — With warmer weather and a lack of indoor activities, Grey County residents are taking to nature as a way of keeping themselves occupied during the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, sunny skies and retreating snow this past weekend saw a number of local trails and parks crowded by stir-crazy people attempting to enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, too many people are having the same idea. As a result, and because of the provincial directive to close non-essential business operations and to support efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, our Conservation Authorities have made the decision to close their trails. The Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) was among them.

“It was a difficult decision,” stated Dick Hibma, interim General Manager/Secretary-Treasurer. “Unfortunately, we were finding that people were starting to gather at our various Conservation Areas, and this has posed a problem. While we wanted to encourage people to be outdoors and to enjoy nature, we were also worried about the risk of people not regarding the federal directive with respect to social distancing,” continued Hibma. “And that indeed, has been the case. So, effective, as of today (March 26), we are closing all our trails as well as the Conservation Areas.”Please be aware, that SVCA will be sure to notify the public as conditions arise and/or improve over the coming days. The health and safety of our staff, volunteers and the community continue to be our top priority. “Be safe, be healthy,” concluded Hibma.

Saugeen Conservation continues to monitor developments on a regular basis with respect to both federal and provincial public health recommendations as well as our local Grey Bruce Public Health Unit.

Grey County residents are also out of luck when it comes to visiting some Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) parks, namely Spirit Rock and Eugenia Falls, as they are also currently closed to the public. Access to these properties is prohibited at this time under the Trespass to Property Act. Other GSCA properties remain open at this time, but will not be maintained until further notice; Visitors are asked to use discretion, as they are entering at their own risk. In order to keep these properties open to the public, GSCA asks that visitors implement social distancing practices and do not overcrowd popular GSCA lands, as there are many great properties to choose from.

GSCA has also announced the closure of all GSCA facilities to the public, as well as the cancellation of face-to-face meetings, events and programs, to proactively protect visitors and staff from the potential risk of contracting COVID-19. The Board of Directors Meeting scheduled for Wednesday March 25, 2020 was cancelled.

All GSCA buildings are also closed. Staff continues to work remotely during this time and are monitoring emails but do not have access to voicemail during this time.

Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, Grey Sauble Conservation Authority has also cancelled the following events and programs:

  • Grey Sauble April PD day camp (April 24, 2020)
  • The Annual Arbour Day Tree Sale (April 25, 2020)

If you have a permit or planning related inquiry, please email: PlanningPermits@greysauble.on.ca

For general inquiries, please email: explore@greysauble.on.ca 

 


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Updated March 12, 2020.

Your comments

Dick Hibma commented on 29-Mar-2020 10:24 AM
Thank you for your coverage. It is essential in getting this information to as many as possible. These are not normal times, and your services are much appreciated.





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