BC Parks is closing some provincial parks due to people not complying with social distance measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to BC Parks, parks throughout Canada are seeing an increase in visitors but many people are not complying with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s requirement to stay at least two metres (six feet)away from others to stop the spread of COVID-19.
BC Parks said it has heard concerns from the public, RCMP, First Nations, regional and municipal governments about the increase in visitors.
“The mental and physical wellness benefit of being outside during the COVID-19 pandemic response is important, but keeping people safe right now is the most important thing we can be doing,” george Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, said in a statement.
“Until we flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19 and people strictly comply with the PHO physical distancing requirement, provincial park access will be restricted.”
The following parks are now closed or partly closed:
- Alice Lake Provincial Park (partial closure)
- Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park (full closure)
- Flores Island Provincial Park (partial closure)
- French Beach Provincial Park (full closure)
- Gibson Marine Provincial Park (partial closure)
- Goldstream Provincial Park (full closure)
- Gowlland Tod Provincial Park (partial closure)
- Juan De Fuca Provincial Park (full closure)
- ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱/John Dean Provincial Park (full closure)
- Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park (full closure)
- Maquinna Marine Provincial Park (full closure)
- Porteau Cove Provincial Park (partial closure)
- Spectacle Lake Provincial Park (full closure)
- Joffre Lakes Provincial Park (full closure)
- Murrin Provincial Park (full closure)
- Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park (full closure)
- Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Protected Area (full closure)
- Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Corridor Protected Area (full closure)
- Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Corridor Protected Area (No. 2) (full closure)
- Shannon Falls Provincial Park (full closure)
- Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park (full closure)
- Stawamus Chief Provincial Park (full closure)
These BC Parks closures come after a previous suspension of services and facilities in provincial parks, including visitor centres, nature houses, washrooms and day-use areas. All BC Parks and Parks Canada campgrounds are closed until April 30, 2020.
Parks Canada also announced Tuesday it is restricting vehicles in national parks and at national historic sites. The measure comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, and lasts until further notice.
Parks Canada said this is intended to significantly reduce visitation and respect the advice of public health experts to stay home and avoid public gatherings.
All visitor parking facilities and associated services at Parks Canada places are closed until further notice. Highways and roadways which pass through Parks Canada places are remaining open. Commercial and through traffic is permitted on these corridors. However, parking is not permitted on highways and roadways. We are asking all Canadians to respect these restrictions.
BC Parks said it will continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak closely and follow the direction and advice set out by the provincial health officer and the Ministry of Health.
Additional provincial park closures may be implemented on a case-by-case basis.
People who still choose to visit open provincial parks are asked to be mindful that they are responsible for their own safety and that washroom facilities will not be available.
And in addition to the BC Parks closures, the Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is closing its campgrounds and amenities.
“We want to do whatever we can to make sure British Columbians have access to this province’s great outdoor recreation opportunities, but this is an unprecedented situation and we need to protect everyone’s health,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The temporary closure includes RSTBC campgrounds where there is an increased likelihood of close contact with frequently touched surfaces, including toilets, kiosks, ticket booths, overnight shelters and day-use shelters. Day-use shelters, backcountry cabins, warming huts, ticket booths at snowmobile areas and other built facilities are also now closed.
BC Parks said backcountry trails will remain open, but maintenance services, including grooming, have been suspended.
For the latest on BC Parks closures, visit the BC Parks website.
For status updates on RSTBC closures, go here.
For recommendations on protecting yourself and your community from COVID-19, and to use an online self-assessment tool, visit the BC Centre for Disease Control.