Advertisement

Coronavirus: B.C. closes 14 provincial parks after social-distance rules ignored

File photo: Rock climbers at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park near Penticton. The provincial government says parks are seeing an increase in visitors, but that many aren’t complying with social distancing.
File photo: Rock climbers at Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park near Penticton. The provincial government says parks are seeing an increase in visitors, but that many aren’t complying with social distancing. Global News

The provincial government has closed 14 provincial parks because it says not enough people are understanding the seriousness of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Environment said parks throughout B.C. are seeing an increase in visitors, but that many people are not complying with the province’s social-distancing demand.

As a result, the government said it will be closing certain parks and recreation areas, including visitor centres, nature houses, washrooms and day-use areas, until April 30.

READ MORE: Camping suspended at BC Parks due to coronavirus pandemic

B.C. Parks heard from the public, police, First Nations as well as regional and municipal governments about how lack of social distancing is putting the province’s vulnerable populations at risk, the province said.

Story continues below advertisement

“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,” said environment minister George Heyman.

“Until we flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19 and people strictly comply with the [public health officer] physical distancing requirement, provincial park access will be restricted.”
Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?' Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?
Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?

Provincial parks to be closed immediately:

West Coast, Vancouver Island

  • French Beach Provincial Park
  • Goldstream Provincial Park
  • Gowlland Tod Provincial Park (closure restricted to McKenzie Bight and Tod Inlet)
  • Juan de Fuca Provincial Park (includes China Beach, Sombrio Beach and Botanical Beach)
  • ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱/John Dean Provincial Park
  • Spectacle Lake Provincial Park

South Coast

  • Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park
  • Joffre Lakes Provincial Park
  • Murrin Provincial Park
  • Shannon Falls Provincial Park
  • Stawamus Chief Provincial Park and Protected Area

Okanagan

  • Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

North

  • Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park
  • Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park (hot springs and campground closed previously; now full closure)

Full and partial park closures previously put in place:

  • Flores Island Park and Gibson Marine Park (closure of Wildside Trail)
  • Maquinna Marine Provincial Park (full closure)
  • Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park (full closure)

The ministry said additional park closures may be implemented on a case-by-case basis.

Story continues below advertisement

People who still choose to visit provincial parks should be mindful that they are responsible for their own safety, and that washroom facilities will not be available.

The Recreation Sites and Trails BC branch of the Ministry of Forests will also close its campgrounds and amenities such as toilets, kiosks, ticket booths, overnight shelters and day-use shelters.

Click to play video 'Vancouver can enforce social distancing with fines' Vancouver can enforce social distancing with fines
Vancouver can enforce social distancing with fines

Backcountry trails will remain open, though maintenance services have been suspended.

“We want to do whatever we can to make sure British Columbians have access to this province’s great outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Minister of Forests Doug Donaldson, “but this is an unprecedented situation and we need to protect everyone’s health.”

Click to play video 'Using drones in the fight against COVID-19' Using drones in the fight against COVID-19
Using drones in the fight against COVID-19