British Columbians wanting to visit some of the province’s most popular parks will now need to reserve a free day pass.
Launched Monday, the province wants the program to help slow the spread of COVID-19, though the Ministry of Environment has said it’s also being tested as a crowd-management tool.
The reservation system opens at 6 a.m. each day. But by 8:30 a.m. on Monday, all day passes were already sold out for East/West Canyon parking lot and Alouette Lake boat launch at Golden Ears Park in Maple Ridge.
Some groups have expressed concerns the new program will force people to travel further to find parks where passes are not needed or to hike in via ecologically sensitive areas.
“It’s hard on the environment, it’s hard on the infrastructure and it’s pushing us to the limits,” Chris Ludwig with the B.C. Mountaineering Club told Global News.
B.C. Parks staff will be at the sites to check for passes.
Parks covered by the 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
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.