More B.C. parks are closing as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses 

Joffre Lakes, Murrin and Shannon Falls closed immediately; as are Lillooet Lake campsites

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MEGAN LALONDE. - Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is located north of Pemberton. BC Parks announced Joffre Lakes is one of several provincial parks that is closing immediately due to COVID-19 concerns.
  • Photo by Megan Lalonde.
  • Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is located north of Pemberton. BC Parks announced Joffre Lakes is one of several provincial parks that is closing immediately due to COVID-19 concerns.

BC Parks is responding to concerns about its visitors failing to comply with necessary physical distancing measures—in this case, by implementing more closures of certain parks across the province.

In the Sea to Sky corridor, that means full closures of Joffre Lakes, Murrin and Shannon Falls Provincial Parks, in addition to the full closure of the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park announced on Sunday, March 22, and previously announced closures of BC Parks' camping facilities. The new closures are effective immediately.

According to a release, parks throughout the province have seen a spike in visitors, and have noted that many in these crowds are not complying with the B.C. provincial health officer's requirement for families and individuals to stay at least two metres away from others.

"This puts the most vulnerable populations at risk. BC Parks has heard concerns from the public, RCMP and First Nations, as well as regional and municipal governments about the increase in visitors and is implementing full closures of certain parks throughout the province," explained the release.

Said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in the release, "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.

"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," he continued.

In addition to the provincial parks' closures, the Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has also opted to close its campgrounds and amenities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RSTBC campgrounds are generally located in remote areas and provide basic facilities—for example, Levette Lake and Cat Lake in Squamish, and the series of campsites located on the shores of Lillooet Lake past Pemberton, like Strawberry Point and Driftwood Bay.

The temporary closure includes RSTBC campgrounds "where there is an increased likelihood of close contact with frequently touched surfaces, including toilets, kiosks, ticket booths, overnight shelters and day-use shelters." Other built facilities, like backcountry cabins, warming huts, and ticket booths at snowmobile areas will also be closed, the release explained.

While backcountry trails will remain open, all maintenance services, including grooming, have been suspended. The province is encouraging trail users to use only local facilities and to avoid travelling for recreation purposes.

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