Heritage Park attendance hopes buoyed by return of paddlewheeler to Glenmore Reservoir
Heritage Park officials are hoping the choppy waters of 2018 will soon become a distant memory as one of their top attractions is set to welcome guests again.
The S.S. Moyie, a replica paddlewheeler that tours visitors around a section of the Glenmore Reservoir, remained on shore for the entire 2018 season as the water level of the reservoir was too low to safely operate the boat. The insufficient water level was the result of upgrades to City of Calgary infrastructure on the north end of the reservoir.
“We had anticipated a decrease in attendance and a decrease in revenue, we just didn't appreciate how much of a decrease we would experience,” said Alida Visbach, president and CEO of Heritage Park. “By the time all was said and done, and the season was over last year at Thanksgiving weekend, we lost $1.2 million of revenue.”
“Our gate attendance was down by 22 per cent and our annual pass sales were down by 26 per cent.”
Visbach says the S.S. Moyie had welcomed a 92,000 passengers in 2017, a park record, and she hopes the return of the paddlewheeler will result in increased attendance.
“We're already starting to feel the excitement for 2019. Our preliminary bookings are very strong and people are excited to see her back in the water. We're hopeful that we're going to be seeing an increase in our attendance by about 19 per cent to make up for some of the loss from last year.”
The Moyie’s summer out of the water offered crews the opportunity to repair the hull, paint the exterior, replace decking and flooring, refinish woodwork and brass, replace flags, and ensure safety measures were in place. “We’ve really done an overhaul on the entire ship just to make sure it’s going to last another 50 years.”
In a statement issued to CTV, officials with the City of Calgary Water Services say the water level in the Glenmore Reservoir is expected to remain at a Moyie-sufficient depth throughout the summer.
“We are pleased to share that the project remains on schedule. As a result, we don't foresee a disruption to the 2019 boating season, or water activities on the reservoir. Given the complex nature of the project, the possibility of unforeseen weather events could impact or change construction timelines.”
Heritage Park is scheduled to open for 2019 season on Saturday, May 18.
With files from CTV’s Ina Sidhu