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EDITORIAL – Time to end closures and let us have a walk in the park again

(Image: BC Parks, Facebook)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE TIME HAS COME to reopen B.C.’s provincial parks.

Not because we should be jumping the gun on ending the anti-pandemic battle but because closing them isn’t working.

More than a thousand provincial parks have been closed until further notice since April 8, and all camping is banned until the end of May unless the provincial government changes its mind.

The reason for the closure is that people weren’t obeying social distancing rules. They still aren’t. People are using the parks anyway, risking fines of $115.

The cost of a walk in the park.

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. is urging the government to reopen them, saying the official closure is causing crowding at local municipal parks, which will result in their closure, too. The council contends that this will result in more and more people ignoring closures, and there aren’t enough resources to enforce them.

Furthermore, says the council, getting outdoors is essential to physical and mental health, a stance backed up by none other than Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Enforcement is definitely an issue. Kamloops closed Hillside Stadium to walkers for a few weeks but re-opened it last week with what are being called “park ambassadors” keeping an eye open for social-distancing violations.

Putting staffing resources into watching parks will stretch already desperate budgets at the local level and it’s easy to see the challenges of trying to police social distancing in big provincial parks.

Combine that with the threat of widespread resistance to closure and the health imperatives of outdoor exercise, and re-opening provincial parks is the only logical way to go.

Limit hours, allow hiking but no camping, urge compliance, police it to whatever degree is possible, and rely on people’s common sense, but reopen them.

I’m Mel Rothenburger.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7836 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Time to end closures and let us have a walk in the park again

  1. Tony Brumell // April 28, 2020 at 11:53 AM // Reply

    Closing parks and forest rec sites does a lot more than might at first be know. Most parks and F/R sites are adjacent to lakes . Was it their intent to stop fishing and close access to the lakes as well ? Go down to Stump lake and view the result. Dozens of vehicles parked on the shoulder of the road with people crowding each other in their drive to access the water.All this while the forest rec site just across the lake is closed and empty. How smart is that ?
    Please reopen the F/R sites and parks now with monitoring by volunteers if need be.

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