Hirsch Creek, a popular campground in Kitimat, is a popular destination for locals.Many local residents and Northwest B.C. residents are choosing to camp or enjoy local activities this B.C. Day long weekend, due to travel restrictions. July 29, 2020. Photo by Clare Rayment.

Camping, exploring among popular activities this B.C. Day long weekend

Many are choosing to celebrate locally amidst travel restrictions this August long weekend.

  • Jul. 29, 2020 12:00 a.m.

With events cancelled and travel plans on the fritz, many people are choosing to stay local this B.C. Day long weekend.

Darlene Campbell and her husband are celebrating their five-year wedding anniversary on the weekend. They were supposed to be taking their long-overdue honeymoon, but were unable to travel to their preferred destination of “Belize or somewhere tropical.”

However, Campbell said they’re making the best of it and finding ways to enjoy the weekend anyway.

“Instead we are going to venture around locally to explore and reconnect!” Campbell commented on a Facebook post asking about people’s long weekend plans.

Formally referred to at the Civic Holiday, the August long weekend holiday Monday is a day for celebrating a region’s local heritage. The day is called something different in different provinces and regions across Canada, depending on what heritage that area is celebrating.

In B.C., the day is known as ‘B.C. Day’, and it recalls the discovery, by explorer James Douglas, of the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island — the site of the current city of Victoria — and the eventual announcement by the British that the region about become the colony known as British Columbia.

In some provinces, the day is a statutory holiday, but not always. However, it is a holiday mandated by federal legislation for all federally-regulated employees, meaning those who work at banks, post offices, and any other government-run jobs or businesses have the day as a designated holiday.

Whatever it’s referred to as, it’s nice to get a long weekend in the middle of the summer. And living in a place with so much surrounding nature and outdoor activities, many are taking advantage of the lack of far-away travel to explore the local area around Kitimat and B.C.’s Northwest.

READ MORE: Boaters urged to stay sober on B.C. Day long weekend

Shaun O’Neill, Deputy Director of Leisure Services with the District of Kitimat, said that Radley Park and Hirsch Creek campgrounds have been book almost solid all summer, and he doesn’t expect that number to go down over the long weekend.

“Right now, I would probably say that Hirsch Creek and Radley Park are running at about ninety-eight per cent capacity,” O’Neill said. “And that’s been probably since July long weekend, we’ve been running in and around that percentage pretty consistently.”

O’Neill said that, while he can’t confirm exactly how local the campers have been, majority of the licence plates they’ve seen in the parks have been from B.C., with a few Alberta plates, as well.

“Where we haven’t seen the travel, of course, is from many of our American neighbours or many folks from overseas that will come in and visit for a period of time.”

RELATED: Radley and Hirsch Creek Parks in Kitimat officially open for 2020 camping season

Currently, the campsites are still on a first-come, first-serve basis, meaning it’s been hectic at times with people trying to get prime spots on weekends. However, O’Neill said that they’ll be switching to a reservation-based system in the next few weeks, with a few electrical and non-electrical spots maintained as first-come, first-serve.

O’Neill said the park doesn’t have anything planned for B.C. Day celebrations, but that’s something they may look into doing going forward.

“Traditionally we don’t [do any long-weekend activities], but that’s an interesting thought for us to consider about doing something different, you know, having an activity-based thing in the park when it’s this busy.”

Usually, Riverboat Days are held in Terrace starting this weekend, but they’ve been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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