COVID-19’s community impact:  Zip lines running full speed at Treetop Eco-Adventure Park

Assistant Manager Mara Spence wears a protective face shield while harnessing up a young customer at Treetop Eco Adventure Park. Photo credit: Courtesy of Tyler Richards

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of articles chronicling the effects of COVID-19 on businesses and organizations in Oshawa.

“This year we had the busiest August and the busiest September we have ever had,” says Tyler Richards, general manager of Treetop Eco-Adventure Park in Raglan (part of north Oshawa). “I was a little short of staff and a little stressed out and I had to sort that out quickly.

Treetop EcoAdventure Park closed in March due to COVID19 but re-opened May 26.

Right in the beginning when everything started, I didnt hire a lot of staff because I wasnt aware how many hours we would be able to give them and what the year would even look like,” says Richards.

The aerial park includes zip lining and high ropes.

In August the park had about 80 people a day during the week, about 200 people a day during the weekend, Richards says. Last year, he says the numbers were about 50-60 people during the week and about 120–150 people during weekends.

Trillium Trails and Treetop ECO Adventure Park's entrance sign on Simcoe Street North, Oshawa.
Trillium Trails and Treetop ECO Adventure Park's sign on Simcoe Street North, Oshawa. Photo credit: Stephanie Lacarte

He says keeping customers safe during COVID-19 “made it a little bit more stressful in that you’re always worried and looking over your shoulder.” As the manager he says he is always making sure his staff are keeping up with the sanitary protocols that have been put in place and people are spread out.

“One of the business’ biggest changes is that we used to only wash our harnesses once a week,” he says. “Now we have to do it after every use, which we will probably continue even after all this is over.”

Kerry Moeller, of Hampton, Ont., visited Treetop Eco-Adventure Park for her first time Sept. 26.

“It was a lot of fun. I had no idea what to expect, but it was a beautiful space and the weather was absolutely perfect,” she says, “It was a great experience, and I would definitely recommend it.”

She says she watched the staff clean the harnesses before and after each use, and that social distancing and the use of masks during her visit made her feel “very safe.

“There were tons of safety protocols,” Moeller says, adding the staff are, “only taking a certain amount of people and having you stay in your groups.”

The Trillum Trails Banquet & Conference Centre building in Oshawa.
The Trillum Trails Banquet & Conference Centre building in Oshawa. Photo credit: Stephanie Lacarte

Treetop Eco-Adventure Park is owned by Richards’ parents Randy and Karen Richards and has been open since 2012. It’s on the same property as the Trillium Trails Banquet and Conference Centre, also owned by Richards’ parents, which opened in 1988 but is now currently closed because of COVID-19. Although technically two separate businesses he says, “the aerial park is keeping the property afloat.”

The banquet hall being closed has hurt us quite a bit,” he says. “We have not had a single wedding because of COVID.”

Richards says the banquet hall has had to rely on available government subsidies for financial support.

“The aerial park kind of offsets a little bit of the loss of the banquet hall but not really because we are losing out on all the revenue we have,” he says.

Central Counties Tourism is a not-for-profit organization in the area that helped the business out with some PPE supplies, he says. About 50 per cent of Treetop’s soap and cleaning supplies have been donated by the organization, he notes.

Richards says he tries to support other local businesses in the area by encouraging customers on social media to grab a bite to eat or to stop at the nearby White Feather Country Store and other businesses in the area.

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