B.C. parks to begin reopening process
Provincial parks have been off-limits to the public since April 8
VANCOUVER – On May 6, the B.C. government announced that they will begin to reopen BC Parks on May 14th as part of a multi-staged plan to reopen B.C.
“Consistent underfunding of BC Parks over decades has created long-standing issues with failing and unsafe infrastructure,” said Bruce Passmore, executive director of The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC), in a prepared statement. “Under-resourced and overworked staff has left parks ill-equipped to handle a surge in visitors at the best of times.”
Provincial parks have been off-limits to the public since April 8. BC Parks has had limited resources and a lack of capacity to support physical distancing measures, and to maintain visitor facilities.
According to the announcement, numerous surveys over the past month showed that most people across the province want to see the reopening of parks prioritized.
“The current public health crisis has put a spotlight on these long-standing issues,” said Passmore. It has highlighted the urgent need for the province to invest in BC Parks to carefully plan for improving visitor safety and the conservation of nature in these places we love.”
“Investment in parks and outdoor recreation should be a priority for the B.C. government to support our health and wellbeing,” said Passmore. “Unfortunately, the BC Parks budget was cut by 4% this year, which has put extra pressure on our parks while demand for outdoor recreation continues to surge.”
CPAWS-BC has urged the government to direct some of the economic recovery funding to BC Parks to hire more people into frontline park jobs, and to improve park infrastructure like trails, campgrounds and other visitor facilities.