New bridge would provide another access point to Golden Ears Provincial Park. (THE NEWS/files)

B.C. launches free day-use passes for 6 provincial parks amid COVID-19 surge

The pilot is aimed at minimizing overcrowding

Just a day after B.C. officials confirmed they were considering a day-use pass system to help minimize over-crowding at popular provincial parks, the government has announced a pilot program at six of its most popular locations.

“People in B.C. love the outdoors, but some of our most popular parks are experiencing a high number of visitors, resulting in crowded facilities, packed parking lots and safety issues, such as parking along the highway,” Environment Minister George Heyman said in a statement Wednesday (July 22).

“This pilot program acknowledges that frequent park users have an important role to play in protecting these important natural spaces and the species that depend upon them.”

Beginning July 27, people will be able to get a free BC Parks day-use pass and visit certain areas in the six busy parks. The passes can be obtained on the Discover Camping website and will be released daily at 6 a.m. for same-day bookings.

The number of passes available each day depends on the park and ranges from vehicle passes to individual trail passes.

The six parks taking part in the pilot include:

  • Mount Robson Park: Berg Lake Trail
  • Stawamus Chief Park: Chief Peaks Trail
  • Cypress Park: upper mountain trails, including the Howe Sound Crest Trail, Hollyburn Mountain Trails and the Black Mountain Plateau trails
  • Mount Seymour Park: upper mountain trails including the Seymour Main Trail, Dog Mountain Trail and Mystery Lake Trail
  • Garibaldi Park: trailheads at Diamond Head, Rubble Creek and Cheakamus
  • Golden Ears Park: all trails and day-use areas

The pilot program comes as B.C. continues to record a daily increase in new COVID-19 cases.

“We strongly support BC Parks reopening these six popular parks, while working to manage visitation and conserve nature in the places we love,” said Bruce Passmore, executive director of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

“With many people staying home this summer, the demand for outdoor recreation continues to surge, putting more pressure on our park system. We welcome solutions that will help manage overcrowding in certain areas and strengthen our opportunity to protect vital ecosystems.”

Backcountry campers with camping permits won’t be required to reserve a day-use pass, but should carry proof of their camping permit if they are using one of the select trails that require a pass, the province said.

Park operator staff will be checking passes upon arrival. Visitors can download the pass onto their mobile device or print it to show at the park.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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