The COVID-19 crisis has given Metro Vancouver Regional Parks staff an unprecedented challenge: keep as many parks open to the public while also implementing and enforcing health measures to prevent virus spread. Here’s how parks staff rose to the sudden and labour intensive demands.
[Narrator] Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, Metro Vancouver Regional Parks have been a place for many residents to connect with nature, and de-stress.
[Mike Redpath, Director, Metro Vancouver Regional Parks] Parks are great places for people to come outside to experience the outdoors. The health benefits are proven. Spending time outdoors can reduce your blood pressure, is good for your mental wellbeing, and can also bring people closer together.
[Narrator] Normally, Regional Parks see 900,000 visitors in April. But that number jumped 67 percent, to 1.5 million visitors, and May had an increase of 61 percent.
[Kevin Roberge, Park Operator, Belcarra Regional Park] Staff has done a really great job adapting to change, and being very versatile throughout all of the changes we’ve gone through over the last couple of months. They’ve done a great job making sure that our park can stay open.
[Narrator] Washrooms are sanitised often. Signage encourages physical distancing. And staff have been providing reminders. They interacted with more than 130 thousand people about physical distancing in spring, and early summer.
[Mona Matson, Park Interpreter, Regional Parks] My role has changed to become someone who helps to educate about physical distancing in parks. So anything from reminding people about making space on the trail, to walk single file, just being mindful about how they’re walking on the trail, and how they interact with others.
[Narrator] Maintain physical distance and reduce crowding, are key reminders for park visitors. The public is asked to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, and follow the guidelines. Choose parks close to home. Walk, bike or take transit to avoid contributing to traffic and parking issues. And pack out all items when leaving the park.
[Mike Redpath] Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks are open. We encourage people to come out, experience the outdoors, connect with your friends, and do it in a responsible way.
Metro Vancouver will continue to monitor and manage visitor behaviour in all of its parks, and will take the necessary action to protect public health and safety throughout the system. Visit the Regional Parks COVID-19 dashboard for COVID-19 updates.