B.C. provincial park campsites and day-use facilities like washrooms were closed March 24. (Black Press files)

B.C. provincial park campsites and day-use facilities like washrooms were closed March 24. (Black Press files)

Provincial parks to reopen amid COVID-19 in time for Victoria Day long weekend

All of Langley’s regional parks – except Brae Island – remain open to the public

Most provincial parks are set to reopen on the eve of the Victoria Day long weekend – May 14 – for day-use only with many remaining facilities, including campgrounds, reopening June 1.

The province shut its parks down to all visitors April 8, on the advice of RCMP, local governments and search and rescue organizations.

Restoring services closed for COVID-19 public health measures now depends on continued success in keeping infection rates low.

In his “restart B.C.” announcement May 6, Premier John Horgan said some B.C. parks will be open in time for the long weekend that is the traditional start to camping season – for day use only.

“Let’s enjoy that, but let’s stay close to home,” Horgan cautioned. “This is not the time for a road trip to another community for a hike or a holiday. If you have a provincial park in your area, by all means, visit it. Do not travel great distances. We need to stay close to home. That is a key part of our recovery.”

Campgrounds and day-use facilities like washrooms had already been closed as of March 24, official concluding that the B.C. parks system is too vast to enforce public health rules on gatherings, and there were reports of parties and other unregulated activities.

A full list of B.C.’s provincial parks and protected areas with operation status is here.

READ MORE: Langley Scout camp offered as emergency site

While Langley is not home to a Provincial Park, several regional parks cover the Township with hiking trails, picnic facilities, and off-leash dog areas.

Campbell Valley, Aldergrove Regional Park, and Derby Reach are just some of the regional parks which are operated by Metro Vancouver – have remained open during the pandemic.

Only Brae Island remains closed in the Langley area – one of two parks operated by Metro Vancouver – due to its close proximity with Kwantlen First Nation.

Sav Dhaliwal, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, said Metro Vancouver has made every effort to keep regional parks open during COVID-19.

“We recognize their value for connecting with nature, reducing stress and maintaining physical and mental well-being,” Dhaliwal said. “It is up to all of our visitors to do their part and keep each other and our staff safe during this critical time.”

Parks visitors are asked to follow these guidelines:

• Choose parks in your own area – do not travel across the region

• Walk, bike, or take transit to avoid contributing to traffic and parking issues

• Maintain physical distance of at least two metres from others at all times, including in parking lots

• Dispose of tissues and other waste in designated garbage bins

• Pack it in, pack it out – do not leave any items behind in parks

• Comply with closures of playgrounds, nature play areas and picnic shelters

• Wash or sanitize hands frequently during the day and upon returning home

• Stay home if you are sick

Metro Vancouver added that they have increased staffing, traffic management and signage at all parks and continues to monitor and manage visitor behaviour – reassessing the status of each regional park on an ongoing basis.

As for Parks Canada, camping, group activities and events at all national parks, national historic sites, heritage canals and national marine conservation areas are suspended until May 31, 2020.

The current suspension of visitor services and vehicle access by visitors, as well as the temporary closure of visitor facilities, will remain in place until further notice – including Fort Langley National Historic Site.

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Is there more to this story?

Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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