N.S. municipality warns against annual Easter weekend canoe trip amid COVID-19
Hundreds of people show up to the unofficial event every year
In the midst of a pandemic, a Nova Scotia municipality is cautioning against a popular canoe trip that draws hundreds of people to local waters every April.
The two-day event in the Municipality of the District of Clare happens over Easter weekend and has been held since 1973.
But it isn't organized by any particular person or group, so there is no way to officially cancel it.
"It's an organic event that happens every year … people just show up with their canoes and four-wheelers, and there's hundreds and hundreds of people," said Warden Ronnie LeBlanc.
The municipality put out a statement Friday discouraging participation. LeBlanc said the municipality wanted to send out a "strong reminder" that the province is under a state of emergency, and people should not be attending large gatherings.
"It's a fun event, it's just not the time to have it with what's going on," LeBlanc said.
Concerns had been raised within the business community, LeBlanc said. If employees took part they could be exposed to the virus and then return to work after a long weekend.
But after putting out the release, LeBlanc said people are listening. "A lot of people that go every year have decided not to participate this year, which is good," he said.
Robbie Aggas has only been on the canoe trip once after moving to the municipality three years ago, but this year he's bowing out.
"It was amazing," he said. "It's two long days of paddling your butt off and hanging out with friends, sharing stories and drinks, and running some awesome rapids."
Despite the canoe trip's "legendary" status, Aggas said he's glad the municipality is warning against it.
There are stops all along the route where hundreds of people gather to eat and drink before moving on to the next leg. Aggas said there would be "no way" to keep those gatherings to five people or fewer.
RCMP in the area go to the event every year, LeBlanc said, to keep an eye on what's going on.
"I'm pretty sure if it gets out of hand, or if it happens at all, they'll be there to issue fines if they have to," he said.
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