As provincial officials wait to slowly turn the figurative taps back on for the Alberta economy, municipal officials are waiting to turn literal taps on at the Lac La Biche's Paul Richard Memorial Splash Park.
Although there have been hot days in recent weeks, with some daytime temperatures hitting almost 30C, going into last weekend, the lakeside park with a dozen water features remained dry.
That's because municipal staff, like officials across the province, are trying to determine how the provincial government's most recent plan to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus will be adapting as it unfolds, says municipal spokesperson Jihad Moghrabi.
"Our staff are currently reviewing Alberta’s ‘Open for Summer Plan’, and we’ll be announcing details on how that will affect County programs and services — including the spray park — in the near future," said Moghrabi.
With just a few weeks between stages of the province's new plan, the time to pivot and adapt is relatively short in some areas.
Plan nears stage 2
The plan, which was announced at the end of May, relies on reduced hospitalization rates and increased vaccinations to ease restrictions at businesses and public spaces across the province. Stage 1 of the three-stage plan began on June 1 after 50 per cent of the province's population had received at least one vaccine dose and hospitalization for COVID-related illness across the province were under 800. The stage 1 plan saw restaurants being allowed to once again offer dine-in service, patios being opened, larger occupancy allowances for businesses and churches, and more people allowed at outdoor gatherings. Outdoor recreation activities remain limited to no more than 10 people in a physically-distanced area.
Those limitations could be amended later week as 60 per cent of Albertans 12 years and older have been vaccinated and hospitalization rates continue to remain below 500. On Sunday, Alberta Health was reporting 373 hospitalizations across Alberta related to the virus.
If the vaccination numbers continue to increase and hospitalizations continue to decrease, Stage 2 could start as early as June 10, and the water in the splash park would start to flow soon after.