Along with most provincial parks province-wide, many Okanagan provincial parks are expected to reopen on May 14 for day use.
British Columbia’s premier made the announcement Wednesday, during a press conference on the province’s wider plans to eases coronavirus related restrictions over the coming months.
It was news that Enderby city council had been hoping to hear.
Prior to the announcement of the phased reopening of provincial parks, Enderby city leaders had been calling for cautious moves towards allowing people back into the parks while still respecting physical distancing.
Councillor Tundra Baird argued reopening the parks would help promote physical and mental well-being.
Baird pointed out people have been visiting Enderby Cliffs Provincial Parks during the closure and it is creating other problems .
The councillor said she had seen more than 50 cars parked along the rural roadway outside of the closed parking lot for the provincial park over the weekend.
“The parks are being used. It would just be nice if there was a measured approach so we could open the gates and the neighbours aren’t up in arms because they have no access to their driveways,” Baird said.
Coldstream’s mayor Jim Garlick was also hoping for provincial parks to reopen for day use to take pressure of local parks and facilities like boat launches.
However, he noted that some residents who live near parks also have also expressed concerns about crowding in their areas.
British Columbians will still need to take precautions as they return to the parks.
Premier John Horgan pointed to advice from the provincial health officer, and said park users will still need to maintain physical distancing in the parks and stick close to home.
“Dr. Henry’s been clear that this physical distancing outside will reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus. In fact, the likelihood is very low provided you follow these basic guidelines,” Horgan said.
The provinces said this initial reopening won’t include parks “with high numbers of anticipated visitors.”
Coldstream reopening boat launches
Local governments are also reassessing their own restrictions.
Coldstream announced a gradual reopening of its boat launches but keeping the beaches closed.
“Beaches such as Kal Beach are very popular. The direction at this time, by the province and the state of emergency, is to not promote gathering in any areas and a beach is a gathering area,” Garlick said.
It also won’t be business as usual at boat launches. The only boat launch for motorized boats in Coldstream will be the Kalavista Boat Launch and boaters will have to book a time to launch there to prevent crowding.
We have now received funding from Emergency Management BC so their will be bylaw enforcement here to supervise it and make sure everything runs smoothly,” Garlick said.
The launch will open to local residents, by reservation, who keep their boats on the lake starting May 12.
Day-use boaters can use the launch starting on May 15, but will also need to book a launch time.
A full explanation of the boat launches new rules is available on the district’s website.
The Westkal Boat Launch is now open for the launching of non-motorized boats only.