The streets in downtown Jasper are mostly deserted these days.
It’s an unusual sight, especially during the Victoria Day long weekend, which is typically seen as the kick-off to summer.
“This is going to be a very different long weekend from the normal for us,” said Richard Cooper, president of the Jasper Park Chamber of Commerce, on Saturday.
“It’s like living in a ghost town,” resident Alan Butler said. He has lived in Jasper for more than four decades.
“Walking down the street and seeing parking spots on Patricia Street this time of year and nobody around — it’s just so bizarre,” Butler added.
The mayor of Jasper is reminding people, however, that’s exactly what they want.
“Now is still not the time to visit Jasper,” Mayor Richard Ireland said. “The backyard is not quite ready.”
Visitor services are still closed along with some roads and campgrounds.
“That day is coming, it’s not too far away, so just exercise some patience, and when we are able to safely and responsibly welcome people back to the community, we will be so excited to do that.”
Some of Canada’s national parks and historic sites will begin to reopen June 1, but only in places where it’s considered safe to do so. It’s not clear yet exactly which ones will open.
Camping in parks will also not be allowed until at least June 21.
“We’re nearly ready to welcome guests with open metaphorical arms and back to Jasper,” Cooper said.
“We’re using this time to really ramp up the safety pieces that we’ve been putting in place.”
Cooper said that’s been the focus since the novel coronavirus pandemic started.
“We’ve been navigating it very carefully and conscientiously,” he explained. “Trying to support businesses through this very, very challenging and unique time for us.”
Like much of Alberta, businesses in the mountain community began to reopen May 14 with restrictions.
“We’re really proud of the way our community has responded to this pandemic,” Ireland said.
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