B.C. closes 17 parks, including in Squamish, effective immediately | Squamish Chief

B.C. closes 17 parks, including in Squamish, effective immediately

Province blocks access after public's refusal to social distance

After a busy weekend with full parking lots and crowded parks, the provincial government announced on March 24 that it is closing multiple recreation sites.

Among the 17 province-wide closures of BC Parks, are Murrin, Shannon Falls and the Stawamus Chief provincial parks. Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is also closed effective immediately. [Find the full list here.]

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In a March 24 press release, BC Parks said there has been an increase in visitors to its parks, many of whom are not complying with the provincial health officer's advisory to social distance by two metres between individuals. These efforts are to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The mental and physical wellness benefit of being outside during the COVID-19 pandemic response is important, but keeping people safe right now is the most important thing we can be doing," said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, George Heyman. "Until we flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19 and people strictly comply with the PHO physical distancing requirement, provincial park access will be restricted."

Services and facilities in the parks, including camping and washroom facilities, were already suspended by the time of this announcement. More provincial parks may be closed, with decisions made on a case-by-case basis.

"People who still choose to visit provincial parks should be mindful that they are responsible for their own safety," the release states.

Recreation Sites and Trails BC has also closed campgrounds due to the pandemic. Day-use shelters and backcountry cabins have also been shuttered and the maintenance of backcountry trails is suspended temporarily.

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