Dozens of people continue to flock to Kanaka Creek Regional Park, looking for a chance to get outdoors and get some exercise, while social distancing. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)

Dozens of people continue to flock to Kanaka Creek Regional Park, looking for a chance to get outdoors and get some exercise, while social distancing. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)

Regional parks still open, but cautions advised

Visitors to Metro Vancouver parks in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are asked to be diligent

  • May. 8, 2020 12:00 a.m.

With sunny weather ahead this weekend, Metro Vancouver staff are reminding people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly to ensure that local parks can be kept open moving forward.

The notice sent out Friday included focus on two local regional parks, Kanaka Creek Regional Park and the Pitt River Regional Greenway.

Even though some restrictions are being lessened as British Columbians look ahead to officials implementing its restart plan, Dr. Bonnie Henry is still insisting people be cautious and cognisant about social distancing and washing hands.

With her words in mind, Metro Van has reiterated a statement they put out ahead of the Easter long weekend, encouraging people to visit parks in their own communities and neighbourhoods, rather than travelling farther afield in the region, said board chair Sav Dhaliwal.

RELATED: Stick to your local parks this Easter weekend, says Metro Vancouver

“Metro Vancouver has made every effort to keep our regional parks open during the COVID-19 public health emergency because we recognize their value for connecting with nature, reducing stress and maintaining physical and mental well-being,” said Dhaliwal.

“It is up to all of our visitors to do their part and keep each other and our staff safe during this critical time.”

Earlier this week, Henry and Premier John Horgan announced efforts to restore services closed for COVID-19 public health measures depends on continued success in keeping infection rates low.

While unveiling some of the plans, Henry urges people to continue practising physical distancing and safe hygiene, such as washing hands frequently.

“We must continue what we are doing for a bit longer. We must continue the measures we are taking to bend our curve down,” she said. “The future is in our hands and we must continue to wash them.”

Following this week’s COVID update, parks visitors are being asked to follow some basic guidelines when they’re out:

• 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; and

• Stay home if you are sick

All Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, with the exception of Barnston Island and Langley’s Brae Island, are open.

However, park facilities such as playgrounds, docks, rental facilities and picnic areas remain closed.

People are advised to check Metro Vancouver’s website for the latest parks service advisories.

Metro Vancouver has increased staffing, traffic management, and signage at all parks and continues to monitor and manage visitor behaviour, Dhaliwal said.

Staff are reassessing the status of each regional park on an ongoing basis.

Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks system extends more than 13,630 hectares and consists of 23 regional parks, five greenways, two ecological conservancy areas and two regional park reserves in communities from Bowen Island to Maple Ridge.

In the meantime, at the provincial level, some of B.C.’s provincial parks and protected areas are set to open June 1, but Golden Ears and Rolley Lake will not be among them.

RELATED: Selected B.C. parks set to open for day use May 14

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Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News