The majority of B.C. parks, protected areas and marine parks will start to re-open this holiday weekend, on May 14, with allowed safe distancing and social protocols to be used in the outdoors. Provincial parks near Prince Rupert will open on May 15. Selected city parks will open on May 16.
Diana Lake, Prudhomme Lake, and Exchamsiks will open May 15. Some parks such as Lakelse and Kitsumkalum, both near Terrace, will be open for day use on May 14. Kitson Island Marine Park, near Prince Rupert, is open on May 14 for day use.
Provincial parks were closed on April 7 to limit the spread of COVID-19, with Prince Rupert closing municipal parks on March 22. Some provincial parks are now being opened as part of a phased plan to prioritize the opening of lower-risk parks, which are less frequented and easier to practice social distancing in.
The City of Prince Rupert is following the lead of the province and staggering municipal park openings with select parks opening on May 16.
The McKay dog park, green spaces in Moose Tot, Mariners Parks and Oliver Lake will be open, however the play equipment will not be available for use.
“Playgrounds, tot lots and fields will remain closed due to the fact that physical distancing and cleanliness protocols cannot be effectively maintained,” the City said. “We ask that all users continue to maintain safe distances of 6 feet or more between yourselves and others using the space,”the City said.
BC Parks will reopen many front and back-country trails, beaches, picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches for day-use on May 14. Visitor centres, nature houses and concession buildings may be opened on a case-by case basis. In some instances, facilities such as playgrounds, hot springs, halls, and picnic shelters will remain closed.
BC Parks is requesting that everyone adhere to the public health orders.
“Please visit parks close to home.Visitors are expected to respect any facility or area closures and to follow the physical distancing requirements set out by the PHO,” BC Parks said.
As part of the plan, on June 1, BC Parks will re-open most provincial campgrounds and back-country camping.
Some campgrounds and parks will experience changes including additional space between campsites and limitations on the number of guests in a campground to ensure physical distancing and new social protocols.
Some communal facilities such as shower buildings will open with enhanced cleaning protocols, while campgrounds that require visitors to use shared cooking facilities and backcountry cabins will remain closed.
Parks that attract large crowds will remain closed until it is safe to reopen at a later date. Backcountry campgrounds in some parks with high day use will also remain closed.
BC Parks has been working with operators and to ensure general work practices, procedures, and cleaning standards comply with PHO and WorkSafe BC requirements. Visitors are requested to bring their own hand sanitizer and to practice appropriate hygiene.
“If you are sick, please visit another time.”
“BC Parks is doing everything we can to ensure parks are safe. We are all in this together, and we are counting on everyone to do their part so parks can remain open,” said BC Parks.
For more information on parks and opening please visit: http://bcparks.ca/covid-19/
K-J Millar | Journalist
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