Group urges B.C. to reopen provincial parks during COVID-19 crisis

Group urges B.C. to reopen provincial parks during COVID-19 crisis
WatchA group is asking the province to reconsider its move to close over 1,000 parks across B.C. due to COVID-19. They say the spaces are essential for many to stay healthy during the crisis, and that local parks are less safe as a result. Julian Kolsut has this story.

A group is urging the government of B.C. to reopen provincial parks during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. sent a letter saying that the move has resulted in local parks becoming busy and is impact physical and mental health.

“Maintain physical distancing, frequent hand washing, these things are important yes but it’s also we are advised we need to get out in the fresh air and sunlight and it’s good for our physical and mental health,” said ORC chair Kim Reeves.

“It makes more difficult to follow distancing advice [in local parks], and we believe actually that limiting access to the big spaces will actually result in the closure of small spaces.”

Colin Plant, the chair of the Capital Regional District says mainland space in parks may have been impacted, but in Greater Victoria people have been obeying rules about distancing.

“We are seeing more people come to the CRD parks and Municipal parks,” said Plant.

“But we are very happy this past weekend, we noted a very high level of compliance and social distancing and behaving appropriately. While we are not out of this yet this is a very positive step.”

Plant says there are also key differences between local parks and provincial parks.

“A majority of our parks and not camp parks… we have enough staff to send out to our regional parks to act as ambassadors and educators . . .  provincial parks are [also] destination parks. And you can’t have destination parks open when you are telling people not to travel.”

Reeves disagrees that the province does not have enough resources.

And with no exact date for when day use will open up, and camping being closed until the end of May, there are concerns that as time goes on more will ignore the closures.

“If this scenario continues on for months like we are being warned… the longer it goes i suspect human nature kicks in and the less people comply,” added Reeves.

For now, the public will have to head to local green spaces to get their taste of the outdoors.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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