Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. campsite owners question shutdown order

The province ordered all private and municipal campsites closed to help curb the spread of COVID-19, but some owners aren't impressed with that decision.

Park operator Ed Singer disputes the distinction between cabins and RVs

Ed Singer, who operates Backside Pond Park in Whiteway, says two communities near his park rely on its tenants in the summer months to get by. (Carolyn Stokes/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday ordered the closure of all private and municipal camp sites to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but some site owners disagree with the decision.

Backside Pond Park owner Ed Singer is one of them. His park, in Whiteway, 112 kilometres west of St. John's, allows RVs to park on its site year-round.

Singer told CBC News the park is full right now and everyone has already paid for their season. He wonders why the provincial government is allowing people to continue to go to their cabins if the same can't be said for those wanting to go to their RVs.

"They're not really campgrounds. Those trailers are there year-round. They're cabins. They're no different than cabins," Singer said.

"I don't think they really know what they're doing."

On Monday, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation announced Newfoundland and Labrador provincial parks would not open due to COVID-19.

Physical distance concerns

Singer said his park provides water and electricity to its tenants, and is gated to control access.

"I don't understand why they didn't have a discussion with me."

All municipal and private camping areas were ordered by the province Tuesday to close down. Some park owners disagree with government's decision. (CBC)

On Wednesday Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, clarified the difference between going to a cabin and going to an RV park.

She said it's not possible to isolate in an RV or a tent, if you get sick.

"[It's] just really more to do with the congregation of people in those areas and difficulty in keeping people apart and physical distancing," she said. "That was the main concern."

But Singer said there's a pharmacy nearby and Carbonear General Hospital is only a 30-minute drive away.

He said his business isn't being hurt by the shutdown, since all residents have paid for the season in full.

However, he's not so sure what's going to happen to his customers in about six weeks when the park opens up for the year. The RVs owners could pack up and leave.

Singer said there are two communities in close proximity that rely heavily on those customers to boost the local economies.

"We're seasonal, OK? We have two towns there that depend on this, for their livelihoods, basically all summer long."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Carolyn Stokes

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