Snowbirds can land at conservation areas, but not yet in St. Clair parks

Warwick Conservation Area
Warwick Conservation Area

Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

It’s that time of year when the Canadian snowbirds start to return north for the summer, but they won’t find a soft landing at a campground in St. Clair Township. But St. Clair Region Conservation Authority is allowing them to return to their second homes.
Township council will keep the gates on local campgrounds closed due to COVID-19, so St. Clair snowbirds will need to find a temporary home.
Kendall Lindsay, director of community services, told council Monday he has been receiving several calls a day from snowbirds asking about the status of St. Clair’s three campgrounds – Mooretown, Cathcart and Branton Cundick.
The sites are popular resident areas for those returning from the United States for the warm months. Some live in the US in the winter and then return home to their campsites.
Campgrounds were originally scheduled to open May 1, but with the province’s emergency order this has been pushed back to at least May 12.
Municipalities have the option of opening to snowbirds alone while the order is in place. 
Lindsay floated the possibility of allowing a certain number into the Cathcart grounds, which could accommodate 12 campers. But he added that there were several issues with this. 
“The province has really put it on us to decide who a snowbird is or isn’t. My fear is that everybody is going to be coming out of the woodwork to say they’re a snowbird and get into the campground,” Lindsay says.
Lindsay is concerned about his staff and the demands this would place on a group that is already stretched thin. St. Clair will not be hiring students during the summer due to the COVID-19. 
Any returning snowbird from the United States would have to immediately enter quarantine for a two-week period at the campground as well, as mandated by law.
Lindsay says the OPP would help monitor this, but that it would still be hard for his staff to constantly keep tabs on everyone at the site.
Council decided to keep the grounds closed to everyone for now saying the safety of staff was too important and it would be difficult to determine who was a snowbird or not.
Council will revisit the issue May 4.   

Meantime, the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority is allowing snowbirds to return to their three conservation areas in the region. It doesn’t appear there will be a large number of people setting up camp however.

Janet Denkers, clerk-administrator in Brooke-Alvinston, told council Thursday night one couple would be moving into the AW Campbell Conservation Area on Friday.