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Coronavirus: Free day passes now available for six B.C. parks

Mount Seymour Provincial Park is one of six parks included in the new day pass program.
Mount Seymour Provincial Park is one of six parks included in the new day pass program. Simon Little / Global News

British Columbians looking to stretch their legs in six of the province’s most popular parks will now need to reserve a free day pass.

The province’s pilot project launched on Monday mainly to help slow the spread of COVID-19, though the Ministry of Environment has said it’s also being tested as crowd-management tool.

Read more: B.C. Parks warning hikers about Joffre Lakes parking chaos

While parks are large, open spaces, the ministry said visitors are often confined to trails and viewpoints where maintaining two metres of distance is challenging.

Many flocking to B.C. parks for that perfect snap
Many flocking to B.C. parks for that perfect snap

The province also points to longer-term issues of crowded facilities and parking lots, illegal parking on highways, and environmental impacts such as soil erosion and trail-widening.

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The new passes will be released at 6 a.m. each day, for same-day booking on the Discover Camping website.

Read more: More parking, towing crackdown coming to Joffre Lakes, one of B.C.’s busiest parks

Parks covered by the day-pass pilot project include:

  • Mount Robson Park: Berg Lake Trail
  • Stawamus Chief Park: Chief Peaks Trail
  • Cypress Park: upper mountain trails, including the Howe Sound Crest Trail, Hollyburn Mountain Trails and the Black Mountain Plateau trails
  • Mount Seymour Park: upper mountain trails including the Seymour Main Trail, Dog Mountain Trail and Mystery Lake Trail
  • Garibaldi Park: trailheads at Diamond Head, Rubble Creek and Cheakamus
  • Golden Ears Park: all trails and day-use areas
  • Concerns over B.C. Parks free day-use pass pilot program
    Concerns over B.C. Parks free day-use pass pilot program

The number of passes will vary by park. In some cases, such as Golden Ears in the Lower Mainland, the passes will be for vehicles while others will be for individuals trails.

Backcountry campers with permits will not need day passes, but the province said they should carry proof of their permit.