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Crowds pack Lower Mainland ski hills amid COVID-19 restrictions

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WATCH: Huge crowds flocking to B.C. ski hills – Dec 23, 2020

With school out, many activities closed due to COVID-19 and fresh snow, skiers and snowboarders have flocked to the Lower Mainland’s local mountains this week.

Mount Seymour and Cypress Mountain have implemented mandatory pre-booking to help manage crowds and parking for the downhill areas, but the roads to the mountains were virtual parking lots on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Read more: Ski industry braces for impact of B.C. province-wide travel restrictions

On Thursday, Seymour said its backcountry parking lot, which is not covered by the pre-booking policy, was full by 10 a.m.

Cypress laid some of the blame for the gridlock earlier in the week on the fact the province had not followed through with initial plans to extend the B.C. parks day pass system from the summer into the winter.

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B.C. ski resorts opening amid non-essential travel directive – Nov 21, 2020

At a press conference Monday, Environment Minister George Heyman acknowledged park operators would likely see unprecedented demand.

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However, he said the province was relying on the public to plan ahead and to check the websites and social media feeds before heading to the mountains.

READ MORE: British Columbia imposes province-wide travel restrictions

“Things tend to fill up, and when the parking lot is full, you won’t be able to get in,” Heyman said.

“So pay attention to the digital signs at the bottom of the hill that will tell you.”

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Ski resorts will be impacted by new coronavirus advisory – Nov 19, 2020

Whistler-Blackcomb has also seen high traffic, with long lines for the resort’s chairlifts.

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Whistler Major Jack Crompton urged people to adhere to the province’s guidelines about sticking close to home.

“The message is clear that people should stay local and only travel when it’s essential,” he said.

Despite the crowds most people Global News spoke with said they were happy with COVID-19 protocols and how everyone is maintaining their social distance.