BC Parks working to establish a reopening plan

Apr 29 2020, 12:33 pm

BC Parks is actively working on a plan for reopening parks and campgrounds across the province, but the exact timeline remains unknown.

Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said earlier this week that with new cases of COVID-19 levelling off, the province can begin looking at ways to ease restrictions.

BC’s parks play a huge role in the lives of British Columbians, and as the weather begins to warm up, many are wondering when they will be able to enjoy the province’s great outdoors once again.

“We know restricting access to parks has been challenging and we want to thank people for their co-operation and patience during these unprecedented times,” says a statement from BC Parks.

“We recognize the value nature has for improving health and wellness, and we’re actively working on a reopening plan for the weeks ahead.”

The province announced the closure of all BC parks on April 8, just before Easter long weekend and the start of camping season.

Although an exact timeline is not yet known, steps are being taken to put a reopening plan in place.

“We are unable to predict exactly when the current park system closure will be lifted, but it will likely be done in a phased approach,” said BC Parks.

“With over 1,000 parks and protected areas, this is a large and complicated task. We’re dealing with everything from remote wilderness and urban settings to quiet day use, large campgrounds and busy day use areas, so we have to assess each of our parks and campgrounds to determine how to reopen them.”

However, even when parks are able to gradually open, BC parks says some closures may have to remain in place for some time.

“This may involve specific parks or park areas, or specific services and facilities. We also need to establish clear safety and cleaning protocols to protect staff and visitors alike.”

BC Parks is working with park operator staff to ensure parks can get up and running.

“We will continue to monitor and work with Parks Canada to co-ordinate a return to regular operations, and with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development on the reopening of recreation sites,” said BC Parks.

“We know these changes are difficult for people, but it’s important to remember that this is temporary. The actions we take today are critical for stopping the spread of COVID-19 and will impact the weeks and months ahead.”