BC Parks has closed the entire BC Parks system, including all parks, protected areas, conservancies, recreation areas, and ecological reserves.
"All camping (front and backcountry) is now banned until May 31, 2020. This action is being taken in response to the call for increased action to address the COVID-19 pandemic," say provincial officials.
With the desire of the public to get outdoors, many parks have already experienced peak season levels of use that have resulted in overwhelmed parking lots, trails and trailheads, making physical distancing difficult, if not impossible in some locations. It has also resulted in damage to our facilities and the environment.
This closure is also necessary to ensure the continued health and safety of visitors, employees, park operators and their staff, volunteers, and park contractors. By taking this action, we align with federal and provincial directives for people to stay home to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk.
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said it was important to resist the temptation to head outside.
"I understand and share the love people in British Columbia have for the outdoors and the connection between health and proximity to nature. We tried to provide safe space for people to get some exercise and fresh air in our beautiful parks. But it has proven too challenging to maintain safe distance between visitors. This action is difficult but necessary. We look forward to the day we can welcome people back to our wonderful parks" he said.
All trails, roads, day-use areas, beaches, lakes, boat launches, and backcountry areas are closed to the public. Park closures will be enforced through regular monitoring and patrols and anyone found in a closed park will be evicted and could face a $115 fine.
In addition to the full system closure, the campground closure has been extended to May 31st, 2020. Full refunds will continue to be provided to those with existing reservations during this time. The Discover Camping reservation system has been suspended for all new reservations. A public notice will be issued once facilities are reopened and the system is able to accept new reservations.
BC Parks continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic closely and is following the recommendations set out by the Provincial Health Officer and the Minister of Health for decisions related to closure and reopening of parks and facilities.
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