The Challenges of Operating a Social Hub Amid a Pandemic

As one would expect, operations at Wesley Clover Parks were impacted significantly over the last Quarter, given the social, event-centric nature of the Park. That said, there were still a number of noteworthy developments that deserve to be shared:


With travel restrictions in place, the team set their sights on offering a shortened camping season for those committed to getting out of the house on a ‘stay-cation’ in the great out- doors. Following all the guidelines provided by the City of Ottawa, the first services to be opened were restricted only to those owning self-sustained Recreational Vehicles (RVs). As the weeks unfolded and the area moved into Stage 3 of the provincial reopening, com- munal washroom and shower facilities were able to come back on line, which allowed bookings to be accepted from guests with  all other RVs, as well as trailers and tents. The last service to come back on line was the very popular onsite cabin rentals for “glamping”. With all features now operating with guest safety as a number-1 priority, the team expects to keep things that way until the typical end of season, later in October. Full information can be found online, at


Providing guests the ability to gather at community events is one of the primary objectives of the Parks. Obviously that goal was impacted over the last months. But the team got creative in their ways to respect the rules but still welcome guests however appropriate. In partnership with DNA Live, one of Canada’s leading event creation and management firms, the team introduced what has proven to be a popular new offering. Harkening back to earlier days of entertainment, “The Drive-In Experience Ottawa” was launched in June, inviting guests to gather in the safety and comfort of their own vehicles and enjoy some of their favourite movies on a large outdoor screen. Vehicles were spaced apart as necessary, and audio signals were streamed over a specific FM radio station to be played through the vehicle entertainment systems. The uptake was so encouraging that the program was expanded to include musical acts and other artists, and the plan is to keep the program running as long as the fall weather permits. Upcoming events are posted regularly at


  • As the Park gates were forced closed, the always sold-out Ian Millar School of Horsemanship lessons program had to be suspended until further notice. That was difficult for the students, of course, but also for the more-than-50 horses that call the Parks home. Like other pets or even children (😀), they need routine to stay healthy and well-behaved. Staff at the Parks responded by taking on whatever roles were required to ensure the care and attention provided to the horses remained at the highest levels. There was also an outpouring of support from students and community members through donations to the “Support a Schoolie” fund that was set up to replace some of the revenues lost over the period. All money raised went directly toward the ongoing food, veterinary services and other costs involved in keeping the horses happy.
  • The team also hosted an online auction to raise funds for an urgent program by Ontario Equestrian called “For The Herd”. This fundraising initiative was needed to support other lesson horses and riding school facilities throughout Ontario who were suffering from lost revenues during this unique situation. The program succeeded in raising more than $200,000 in much needed assistance.
  • The many equestrian tournaments and other events that had been locked into the 2020 calendar also had to be cancelled, including the cornerstone Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments. Fortunately, as restrictions were slowly loosened, riders gradually were able to get back in the saddle, and the  team realized a modified competition season was still possible. In short order, a partnership with Assante Wealth Management enabled the launch of the Assante Summer Series, a custom, seven- week series of events suited primarily to the local equestrian community. Again, the team worked closely with the City of Ottawa, Equestrian Canada and Ontario Equestrian to ensure these competitions were planned and executed in a safe and responsible manner, following all provincial guidelines. As a result, it was not possible for spectators to attend these events in person, however, they could follow along on the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments Facebook page at OttawaEquestrianTournaments/ and find results at www.ottawaequestrian

Such is life in a pandemic lockdown. But it is not all doom and gloom, and we have enjoyed sharing some of the good news with you here.