For the remainder of 2020, visitors to Chestermere’s beaches who are not residents of the community will be required to pay an admission fee.
With the current public health concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, the City recently implemented capacity limits at the beaches, under the authority of the provincial beach guidance document, to ensure that visitors are safe. To help offset the costs of enforcing those limits, the City is now requiring non-residents pay an admission fee.
“Our main goal for 2020 is to keep people safe,” says Mayor Marshall Chalmers. “We know that implementing capacity limits is the best way to ensure all beachgoers can have a safe and fun experience, but adding fencing and security is not free. As Chestermere residents already pay for the maintenance of the beaches, adding an admission fee for those who do not live in our community will help to offset the costs of keeping visitors safe during this global pandemic.”
The City cannot prohibit non-residents from using the beach as Alberta does not allow discrimination between residents and non-residents being permitted in public places. However, by passing Bylaw 026-20 on Tuesday evening, the City can now recover some of the costs associated with the activities at the beach by charging a fee for non-residents. This is done under the authority of the Municipal Government Act and the City has the right to regulate activities on Chestermere Lake under the agreement with the Western Irrigation District.
Chestermere is home to three lakeside parks: Anniversary Park & Beach, Cove Park & Beach and Sunset Park, all of which provide access to the 5km long Chestermere Lake.
Non-residents will need to pay the visitor fees which are $15 per person over 15 years of age, $5 for anyone between 3 to 15 years of age and free for infants under 3. A family pass will be available for $40.
Chestermere residents over the age of 15 will need to prove residency by showing identification before being allowed complimentary entry. This can be a driver’s license, mail, or school ID. An adult resident can also vouch for another person’s residency.
Once visitors have paid or been verified as a Chestermere resident, beachgoers will be given a wristband that allows access to any of the three lakeside parks that day, provided the park is not already at capacity. People with a wristband will be permitted to leave the beach area and return as they need, so long as the maximum capacity isn’t reached.
If visitors (regardless of whether they are residents or not) come to the park and it is at capacity, they will need to wait or come back later. There will not be a time limit on how long visitors can stay at the park once admitted.
The maximum limit at Anniversary Park will be 615 people (115 on the beach), the maximum limit at Cove Beach will be 205 (39 on the beach) and the maximum at Sunset Park will be 483. If overcrowding continues to be a problem, the City may further limit or close beaches.
“This bylaw will be in effect for the remainder of 2020,” says Mayor Chalmers. “At the end of this year, we will review its effectiveness and need for the future. That way, we can ensure we are still following the best ways to keep our residents and visitors safe, even as they enjoy our city.”