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‘Difficult but necessary’ – local parks, trails, rec sites closed amid pandemic

Several closures by province in area due to physical distancing concerns

If you’re planning a marathon of outdoor activities amid the pandemic, it’s going to have to take a rain cheque – at least for now.

Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. has closed a number of recreation sites as well as parks to the public in an effort to further prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Furthermore, B.C. Parks announced on Wednesday (April 8) that all provincial parks will be closed “in response to the widespread call for increased action to address COVID-19.”

“Because physical distancing works, it is critical that we take every action needed to restrict the spread of COVID-19,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “This applies to British Columbians and out-of-province visitors who were planning to visit or stay at our provincial parks. The message is clear: stay home, avoid travel, do not put yourself or others at risk.”

RELATED: Harrison to continue visitor deterring measures, beef up COVID-19 rule enforcement

“I understand and share the love people in British Columbia have for the outdoors and the connection between health and proximity to nature,” Heyman continued in a statement. “We tried to provide safe space for people to get some exercise and fresh air in our beautiful parks, but it has proven too challenging to maintain safe distance between visitors. This action is difficult but necessary. We look forward to the day we can welcome people back to our wonderful parks.”

Several tourist destination towns across the province – including Harrison Hot Springs – have closed themselves off to visitors, asking tourists to stay away during the outbreak.

RELATED: COVID-19: BC Parks to suspend camping, access to some facilities

“For the health and safety of our residents, public works crew and for yourselves, please do not visit our community, not even for a stroll, a hike, ride or a drive,” Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Leo Facio said in a 43-second video address posted to the official village Facebook page on Tuesday, April 7. “Our community beaches, parks and facilities remain closed to visitors, and our bylaw enforcement officer is on duty to assist in the enforcement of the public health orders.”

The provincial closures include the following areas in the Observer readership area:

Bear Creek: Small, forested site on the shore of Harrison Lake off East Harrison Forest Service Road.

Cascade Peninsula: Medium, forested site on the shore of Harrison Lake off East Harrison Forest Service Road.

Chehalis River: Site near the Chehalis River, accessed through Morris Valley Road.

Cogburn Beach: Waterfront site along Harrison Lake off East Harrison Forest Service Road.

Grace Lake: Small but popular site along Grace Lake, located off Sts’Ailes Forest Service Road, formerly Harrison West Forest Service Road.

Kilby Provincial Park: Riverfront, history rich park located near Harrison Hot Springs.

Sloquet Hot Springs: Remote campsite near Sloquet Creek off Sts’Ailes Forest Service Road.

Sasquatch Provincial Park: 1,200-hectare provincial park six kilometres north of Harrison Hot Springs

Twenty Mile Bay: Large site on Harrison Lake, off Sts’Ailes Forest Service Road.

Weaver Lake Group Site/Weaver Lake: Located along Weaver Lake off Morris Valley Road.

Wolf Lake: Located at Wolf Lake just off Sts’Ailes Forest Service Road

Wood Lake: Large site located along Wood Lake two kilometeres off Sts’Ailes Forest Service Road

Denham Trail surrounding Weaver Lake in a 6.5-kilometre loop is still open at this time. The Campbell Lake Trail – a 9-kilometre hike in east Harrison – is also still open, located on Balsam Avenue.

For further information concerning closures, visit the B.C. Parks website at http://bcparks.ca/ and Sites and Trails B.C. at http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/.



adam.louis@ahobserver.com

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