Calypso water park still closed

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
Mid-July has come and gone, it's hot, but the parking lot at Calypso Park remains empty.

Officials for the popular water theme park in Limoges were hoping Calypso would be part of the Stage 3 reopening of more businesses in Eastern Ontario that takes effect midnight Friday, July 17, but the provincial government has decided that amusement parks and water parks will remain closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Le Parc aquatique Calypso toujours fermé

“We are ready to welcome employees and guests with all safety measures in place to help keep everyone safe,” states a notice on the homepage of the Calypso website. “We continue to follow Ontario’s reopening guidelines and hoping Calypso will be allowed to open soon.”

Park staff for Groupe Calypso Valcartier, the Québec-based company that owns Calypso, had prepared a plan for reopening the water park, with a reduced limit to the number of people allowed inside the park during operating hours, social distancing guidelines for patrons and staff, and increased sanitization of park facilities. The plan also called for shutting down certain popular rides because they presented problems with social-distancing enforcement.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, chief medical officer for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU), and his staff reviewed the Calypso public health safety plan and gave it their approval and support. Dr. Roumeliotis noted during his July 16 media teleconference that EOHU staff did a site walk-through of Calypso to determine how feasible the plan would be. He also added there is a need to have a facility like Calypso open because of the heatwave situation in Eastern Ontario, which is expected to resume after the recent thunderstorms.

“We’re hoping that there can be an exemption soon,” said Dr. Roumeliotis. “We believe it is possible to have a safe balance here.”

Mayor François St-Amour of The Nation Municipality, where Calypso is located, also hopes that the provincial government will soon approve an exemption and let the water park open before the summer season is over.

“This business has 90-some days to do their business and make their money,” St-Amour said during a phone interview. “Even now it might be too late for them in the season.”

The mayor noted that other water parks in Québec are reaping the benefit of Calypso’s closure as Eastern Ontario residents head across the provincial border for weekend trips.

“At least 60 per cent of the licence plates in the parking lots over there are from Ontario,” St-Amour said, adding that any further delays to Calypso’s reopening means more revenue for an even shorter season. “They have a right to be upset.”

The mayor also noted the spinoff effects of Calypso’s closure means no summer jobs for local college and university students who need to earn money for tuition and other expenses for next term. It also affects the local economy with less summer tourism sales of gasoline, groceries, and other items.

The Nation council has made its plea to the EOHU recommendation to the provincial government to let Calypso Park reopen soon.

“I know the message has been getting through to Queen’s Park,” said Mayor St-Amour. “Dr. Paul (Roumeliotis) says they have a good plan, and I trust him.”