Area conservation authorities closing some facilities to public

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Conservation authorities that include Wellington County in  their watershed have closed or limited access to facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) has closed all its parks as of March 23.

The closures, announced on March 22 “to ensure public safety and the well-being of staff and visitors,” will be in effect until at least April 6.

GRCA park visits have increased during the COVID-19 outbreak and officials say that while “many visitors have respected social distancing measures, our staff have reported concerns with some large groups of people, illegal parking and people entering areas that are marked as closed.”

The GRCA warns that anyone entering GRCA parks will be trespassing and those who choose to ignore the closures and park outside on municipal roadways may be subject to fines.

“We are urging the community to respect the closures,” stated GRCA communications manager Lisa Stocco in a press release.

“With the gates closed, and limited staff, we are reminding the public that it will make it difficult for emergency services personnel to assist people within the parks in the event of an emergency.

“Anyone who chooses to ignore the closure is putting their own safety, and potentially the safety of others at risk.”

Officials add that some parks include dam infrastructure that require daily inspections by staff and “it is essential that they are able to continue to do so without impediment or risk to their health and safety.”

The GRCA will reassess the situation in two weeks. For authority updates regarding COVID-19 visit the GRCA website.

Credit Valley

Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) is closing all conservation areas and trails effective 4pm March 24 until further notice.

“CVC has made the difficult decision to close all parks and trails to the public for an indefinite period. We will reopen only when it is appropriate to do so,” said Deborah Martin-Downs, Chief Administrative Officer.

Full closures apply to Belfountain, Island Lake, Terra Cotta, Rattray Marsh, Meadowvale, Limehouse, Silver Creek, Upper Credit Conservation Area and the Cheltenham Badlands. The closures also include Ken Whillans Resource Management Area, the Elora Cataract Trailway and all other CVC-owned or operated properties and trails.

CVC staff will be actively monitoring properties and trails for compliance with the closure notice. Authorized staff will issue tickets for trespassing and will be monitoring for parking violations, the authority states.

Maitland Valley

The Maitland Valley Conservation Authority administration centre and the Falls Reserve Conservation Area office have been closed to the public until 8:30am on April 1.

“Our staff continue to be available by telephone and email,” the MBVA announced in a March 19 statement.

At this point Falls Reserve is scheduled to open for camping and day-use on April 17.

Saugeen Valley

While most Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority (SVCA) facilities were open as of March 23, the authority is encouraging due diligence at all outdoor areas, including social distancing and staying away if you are sick.

The Administrative office (1078 Bruce Road #12, Formosa), will remain closed to the general public until further notice, the authority states.

The SVCA stated  essential services were operating as normal and staff still working their normal work hours, either from home, the office, or various parks