The entrance to the Hay River Territorial Park is chained shut, and will remain that way after its usual annual opening date of May 15. The GNWT announced on April 10 that the opening of all territorial parks has been postponed to an undetermined date because of the Covid-19 crisis.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

The GNWT is postponing the opening of territorial parks in an effort to contain the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19.

The announcement was made in an April 10 news release from Katrina Nokleby, the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI).

“We know that families are eager to get outside and enjoy NWT parks,” Nokleby stated. “I can assure you this decision was not made lightly, but ultimately the health and safety of our guests, staff and contractors is our top priority. We look forward to the opening of our parks season at a later date.”

That later date has not been determined.

Tom Colosimo, the South Slave superintendent with ITI, basically predicted the closure of the territorial parks during an online appearance before Hay River town council on April 6.

“I would be very surprised if we actually do open our parks on time,” he said.

Most territorial parks, including the Hay River Territorial Park, open on May 15 each year.

Colosimo said the government would take directions from the NWT’s chief public health officer.

The superintendent also noted there have been scans of what other jurisdictions and organizations are doing, such as Parks Canada.

“First and foremost, we have to keep in mind the safety of our citizens,” said Colosimo. “But another big issue is how do we keep our staff safe when interacting with people who are utilizing our sites.”

Colosimo noted that, if the parks are closed, people will still need to get outside and walk.

“So we understand that,” he said. “And if we close all our park sites, people are just going to go, anyways.”

People will still be permitted to use walking trails within NWT parks, but will be encouraged to observe social distancing.

The GNWT’s online reservation system will remain closed until further notice.

The renting of facilities, such as kitchen shelters, will not be available until the parks open.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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