City of Delta calls for reopening of regional parks
VANCOUVER -- The City of Delta is calling on Metro Vancouver to reopen a pair of regional parks within the city's borders, now that the Easter long weekend has passed.
Metro Vancouver closed four regional parks - including Deas Island and Boundary Bay regional parks in Delta - on April 9, just one day after the provincial government announced it would be closing all provincial parks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Outdoor Recreational Council of B.C., a non-profit group, has called on the province to reopen provincial parks, arguing that spending time outdoors is crucial for maintaining both mental and physical health.
In its defence, the province has noted that provincial parks were experiencing "peak season levels" of visitors while they were open, making it harder for people to maintain the physical distancing necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Part of the rationale for closing regional parks in Metro Vancouver was to avoid a surge in visitors over the long weekend with provincial parks closed, the City of Delta said in a news release Wednesday.
The city said roughly 600 vehicles were turned away from Boundary Bay Regional Park on April 11 - the Saturday of the long weekend. The city called this "a clear indication of the importance of proactively closing the park."
Delta's appeal to reopen its local regional parks comes with the caveat that the city believes parking lots should remain closed because of physical distancing concerns.
"The closures of Deas Island and Boundary Regional Park were always envisioned to be revisited after the long weekend to find a way that the parks could be used safely, within the guidelines set by (provincial health officer) Dr. Bonnie Henry," the city said in a release Wednesday. "The city is seeking the right balance between protecting public health and ensuring Delta residents have access to open spaces for physically separate exercise."
Delta said it would implement additional parking limitations near Boundary Bay Provincial Park, beyond closing the parking lot, and added that "parking regulations will be actively enforced."
"The City of Delta continues to urge people to stay close to home, which for local residents includes using Deas Island and Boundary Bay Regional Parks for exercise while practicing safe physical distancing," the city said.
The city said it will continue to monitor the situation in the reopened regional parks and city staff, along with the mayor and city council, will "continue to evaluate" their approach to the issue.