BC Parks operating with new rules

BC Parks operating campgrounds with new visitor standard of conduct to ensure guests can enjoy peace of mind while camping during COVID-19.

Roche Lake Provincial Park is one of the campgrounds now available with new measures in place. Photo SPIN

With the camping season well underway in the province, BC Parks guidelines to camping safely during the pandemic are in place in parks, many of which reopened on June 1. 

The current reservation system allows B.C. residents to reserve campgrounds up to two months in advance, different from the usual four months in advance. 

This change, along with other new rules and regulations, is meant to spread out demand during the busy summer months and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 while people get back outside to enjoy what summer can offer in B.C.

A new visitor standard of conduct has rolled out since the reopening, which includes things like physical distancing, staying home if you are experiencing symptoms of the virus, staying local, refraining from participating in risky recreational activities, washing your hands, and not touching your face.

BC Parks also released specific guidelines for camping during the pandemic such as setting up your campsite with a hand washing station, leaving at least one empty campsite between your site and your neighbours’ site, and accompanying children at the beach and other public areas to make sure that they are adhering to the new standard of conduct.

“Failure to comply with regulations and policies may result in enforcement actions and/or eviction from the park. Park operators and rangers will be out making sure that visitors comply with all regulations, policies, and orders of the provincial health officer,” BC Parks stated in their press release.

Furthermore, only residents of B.C. are allowed to reserve campsites at provincial parks to ensure travellers are remaining close to home and not tempted to travel into neighbouring provinces.

“Spending time appreciating nature is one of the best things we can do for our health and well-being,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “Camping provides the ideal opportunity to connect safely with family and friends in BC Parks beauty. We want to ensure British Columbians have access to summer vacation opportunities close to home, so we are limiting new reservations to B.C. residents. Our plan is to safely open as many parks as possible so that B.C. campers and day visitors can rediscover the wilderness beauty close to home.”

Some campgrounds, parks, and facilities such as backcountry communal cabins, campsites near hot springs and those that require visitors to use shared cooking facilities,  remain closed due to the difficulty associated with sharing these facilities while remaining physically distanced.

BC Parks is one of the world’s biggest parks systems covering 14 per cent of the provinces’ land mass and has added over 1,200 new campsites in the last three years as part of their expansion program. The additions to campsites and protocols are meant to help campers ease into physically distanced camping this summer and meet future demand.

For more details on camping during COVID-19, to reserve a site, find out about site and trail updates, or the status of BC parks closures, either hit the links or visit their website at http://bcparks.ca/