National parks in British Columbia remain closed over long weekend

National parks in British Columbia remain closed over long weekend
Photo courtesy Times Colonist.
Long Beach Unit of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Parks Canada has sent out a reminder to British Columbians that visitor services and vehicle access will continue to be suspended at all national parks over the Victoria Day long weekend.

Services at national historic sites, heritage canals and national marine conservation areas are also closed.

On Vancouver Island, this means services will not be open at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, including Broken Group Islands, the Long Beach unit and the West Coast Trail.

Visitor services, like washrooms, beaches, and visitor centres, and vehicle access at the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve are also closed.

All events, groups and interpretive activities remain suspended until further notice. And backcountry and front-country camping are prohibited until at least June 21, 2020.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson announced Thursday that a large number of Canada’s national parks and historic sites will partly reopen for daytime visitors next month. 

Not all parks and sites will be reopening, and both Trudeau and Wilkinson also said Canadians should plan to only visit parks close to home.

Canada shut down all 46 national parks and 171 national historic sites on March 25 as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Wilkinson said people should check online before heading out to see whether their local park is open and to see what activities are permitted. 

As for provincial parks in B.C., the government reopened the majority of provincial parks and protected areas and marine parks for day use.

This included many front- and back-country trails, beaches, picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches for day-use.

Visitor centres, nature houses and concession buildings may open on a case-by-case basis. In some instances, facilities such as playgrounds, hot springs, halls, and picnic shelters will remain closed.

On June 1, BC Parks is scheduled to reopen most provincial campgrounds and back-country camping.

According to BC Parks, to ensure physical distancing, there will be some changes in campgrounds, including additional spacing between campsites and limitations on the number of guests in campgrounds. Some communal facilities such as shower buildings will open with enhanced cleaning protocols, while campgrounds that require visitors to use shared cooking facilities and backcountry cabins will remain closed.

Parks that attract large crowds are also remaining closed until it is safe to reopen at a later date, as are backcountry campgrounds in some parks with high day use.


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