Canada Day takes place this coming Wednesday, and many Edmontonians take the day to celebrate with family and friends. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, this year will look much different than others.
Currently, provincial health regulations allow for gatherings of up to 50 people inside, or 100 outside, as long as a physical distance of two metres is possible between people who aren’t in the same household or cohort.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, has said her main suggestions to stay safe on Canada Day are to stick with celebrating with members of your household or cohort and to take the celebration outside.
“I know many people are tired of following health measures and physical distancing, particularly as the risk of severe outcomes is lower for those under 60 years of age. However, a lower risk does not mean there is no risk at all,” she said last week.
Hinshaw also recommends avoiding having a barbeque or a potluck or sharing serving utensils.
“This year it’s a good idea for everyone to bring their own food and drinks. And if anyone disagrees with that, you can blame me for that recommendation.”
I know leading into Canada Day, many of us would like to have BBQs & potlucks. We’ve seen a single BBQ spark a wide number of cases. Shared containers & serving utensils can spread #COVID19AB. This year, encourage everyone to bring their own food & drink to celebrations.
— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) June 28, 2020
Things to do on July 1 in Edmonton
While the city has cancelled its official annual fireworks display, there are still some activities happening around the city that are safe for families to take in. All the below activities are suggested to be done with family members or those in your close cohort.
University of Alberta Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Canada, with regular admission and no special programming. All outdoor displays are open, but the gift shop and welcome centre are closed. Guests are required to make a reservation online.
The City of Edmonton has curated a number of online celebrations families can tune into, including several live-streamed shows coming straight from Ottawa.
A number of local municipalities from the Edmonton area have also joined together to present an online concert series and family activity kit so people can celebrate from their homes.
The city is also encouraging people to decorate their homes with lights to show their spirit along with the High Level Bridge, Walterdale Bridge, Rossdale Power Plant, Muttart Conservatory and City Hall — which will be all lit in honour of Canada Day.
Edmonton Valley Zoo
The Edmonton Valley Zoo is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. this Wednesday, and like the Botanical Gardens, requires guests buy tickets in advance. Some early slots are already booked up, so snag your spot online early.
Features like animal talks, rides, play structures and stroller rentals will not be available. Some indoor displays like the Elephant House and some areas of the Saito Centre also remain closed.
Run for your country
The Running Room is hosting a virtual Canada Day Road Race this Wednesday. Participants are being encouraged to run, walk or cycle around Edmonton and take photos of places in the city that represents their Canadian identity. Upload the pictures to the run website afterwards to see where the other participants ended up. Entrance fee is $20, which covers a participation medal, entry for prizes and a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Explore the river valley
Of course, this is a no-brainer, but Edmonton’s massive river valley plays host to numerous parks and perfect picnic spots. Pack a snack and some cold drinks and get together with your close contacts for a scaled-down Canada Day celebration. A reminder though, that officials still do not recommend sharing snacks or potlucks with people outside of your household, so bring your own treats for this one.
Check out a museum
If you’re feeling like you want to keep things indoors this year, the Royal Alberta Museum is open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Canada Day. Again, due to limited tickets, admission is required to be booked in advance online. The Art Gallery of Alberta will be closed on Wednesday.
Keep your eyes on the sky for a secret firework show
John Adria, owner of Uncle John’s Fireworks which operates four stores in Alberta, said one group near Edmonton is planning a show but isn’t telling anyone in advance where the fireworks will be launched from. That way, he explained, they’ll prevent a crowd from gathering that would violate social-distancing rules.
“It’s a big show. Will you be able to see it from many places in Edmonton? Yes,” said Adria, who wouldn’t divulge the name of the organization.
“I’ve probably said too much already.”
On June 1, provincial campgrounds reopened at 50 per cent capacity, however, upon entering Phase 2 of Alberta’s relaunch plan, Premier Jason Kenney announced campgrounds are now eligible to reopen at full capacity.
By July 1, the government said all provincial campsites will be open for reservations, however, several first-come, first-served sites opened sooner in Alberta.
Campsites in the province are asking Albertans to be mindful of health recommendations amid the pandemic, including bringing their own sanitizer, maintaining physical distancing from other campers and staying home if sick.
Campsite reservations can be made by visiting Alberta Parks.
–With files from The Canadian Press, Kirby Bourne and Demi Knight, Global News
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