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A Calling Amidst a Crisis

A CALLING AMIDST A CRISIS

By Tera Swanson
Created in partnership with Park Distillery

On Banff Avenue, where COVID-19 has brought business to a standstill, a local distiller hasn’t fully stopped operations. Instead, it is pivoting its equipment towards a new purpose.


Photo by Anna Robi.

Park Distillery Restaurant + Bar in Banff National Park is stepping up to produce sanitizer as the world adapts to new forms of need during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The restaurant and distillery located on a once-bustling Banff Avenue was formerly focused on the production of vodka, gin and rye, alongside mountain-inspired Canadian campfire cuisine. But in these times of crisis, it has a new calling. 

Since late-March, the town of Banff has seen mass lay-offs as the tourism industry came to a halt, as did the consistent availability of many store shelf products, such as disinfectant. The shortage was felt at many levels, from households to health care.

Photo courtesy Park Distillery.

Yannis Karlos, chief of operations and co-founder of Park Distillery, saw an opportunity for innovation with Park’s distillery system already in place. It wasn’t long after they closed their doors to guests that they repurposed the distilling process to help fight the pandemic.

“With the havoc that COVID was wreaking across a variety of sectors, we saw this as a way to help our community and to help people stay safe at work,” said Karlos. “Our first batch of sanitizer was fully distributed within the community via the Town of Banff’s Emergency Coordination Center, with 300 litres of product sent to organizations on the front lines.” 

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“As long as there’s a need, we’ll be
producing sanitizer.”

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Now, they’re distributing hand sanitizer and sterilizer solution across Alberta and even across borders. Since their first batch was produced just over a month ago, Karlos and his team have distributed bulk quantities of the sanitizer product to various health care providers, logistics companies, and commercial operations. 

“We have sent a batch of medical-grade sanitizer solution to a dental company working with Health Canada and the FDA in the US,” said Karlos. “They operate across borders in repurposing their 3D printers to manufacture ventilator parts.”

Organizations in need can place wholesale orders online for sanitizer product following the recommended formula by the World Health Organization, and approved by Health Canada.

Photos courtesy Park Distillery.

While inventory is prioritized for front line organizations, excess product is also now publicly available in limited quantities. Retail bottles of sanitizer are now available in numerous locations across the Bow Valley and Calgary, and individual online orders of 200-millilitre bottles are also available for purchase on their website. 

“As long as there’s a need, we’ll be producing sanitizer,” said Karlos. “Our license from Health Canada allows us to produce until the public health emergency is declared over.”


Tera Swanson is a freelance writer and graduate from Mount Royal University’s Journalism undergraduate program. Whether laced into hiking boots or clipped into skis, her favourite way to explore the mountains is on her own two feet. She’s always up for anything that will end in the telling of a good story; be it through photography, from pen to paper, or over a locally brewed amber ale.

The views and opinions expressed in the articles on CrowfootMedia.com are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.

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