BC parks closed, CRD parks open ahead of busy long weekend

CHEK
WatchWith the long weekend just around the corner and the sunny skies arriving, parks across the province were expected to be packed. But the province has announced that all its parks will be closed to the public. The CRD is keeping its parks open, but as Julian Kolsut reports, there are concerns that physical distancing rules won't be obeyed.

B.C. has closed all of the parks under their control, ahead of the busy long weekend.

They say some are failing to maintain social distancing

“When you are in a park with narrow trails and a large number of people, we have all seen the images on T.V. news of people actually being really close together,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to CHEK News.

“I think most people get it but some people are not getting it. It’s not a matter of somebody goes out and puts themselves at risk. Because we move around, we put everyone at risk.”

All camping at provincial sites is closed until May 31st.

Day use could open up earlier if provincial health authorities believe the risk on the trails will drop

“We are going to ensure the gates are down and where there are no gates we’ve got some barricades,” said Heyman.

“We’ve got some signage. We’ll have park rangers, park operators and if necessary, conservation officers there to inform people if they are found in the parks that they shouldn’t be there [that] they should leave.”

The Capital Regional District (CRD) is keeping its parks open for the time being, but say how the public will act this weekend will determine if the parks stay that way.

“We are hoping people will, if the parks are full, don’t go and stay at home,” said CRD Director for Juan de Fuca Mike Hicks.

“If you do go make sure you social distance, and if you can’t do that we will close the CRD parks as well.”

Staff will be at parks making sure the rules are followed.

Officials are also worried that some might choose to go to more remote areas like remote logging roads to enjoy the weather. They are urging everyone to do their best to stay home.

“We are bracing for a bit of a crush this weekend,” said Vicki Webber, senior search manager with Juan de Fuca Search and Rescue.

“Tail your activities to the ones that have less risk. Not just for yourself but also for the first responders who are going to have to deal with that.”

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