VANCOUVER -- Some B.C. Parks have now reopened for day use, and camping isn’t far behind, as COVID-19 restrictions ease in the province.

However, not all parks are open yet. Environment Minister George Heyman told CTV News Vancouver the criteria used to determine which parks would reopen centred around public safety.

Some factors included the government's "ability to provide the services, including cleaning washroom facilities or high-use areas so that people can feel safe, monitor activity, control access if we needed to,” Heyman said. He added they also looked at whether a park was close to a small community that had concerns about being overwhelmed by visitors, and whether the area had “historical overcrowding issues."

“People may see park operators in some cases controlling access,” Heyman said. “We have a plan in B.C. Parks to ensure that when we get close to a certain level of capacity in a parking lot that indicates to us that physical distancing will be hard with the number of people in the park, we may limit access or control it until a certain number of people leave.”

In Metro Vancouver, people returned to Golden Ears Park in Maple Ridge, which like other provincial parks had been closed since April 8.

Visitor Ariana Villars said it was a nice change of pace from being stuck at home.

“Just nice to have fresh air and space to move around.” she said.

In Squamish, Stawamus Chief Provincial Park also reopened, however the main Chief trail remains closed.

However, Mount Seymour and Cypress are still closed to the public for now.

Even so, outdoor enthusiasts began showing up at the popular spots Thursday morning, only to be met with road blocks and closure signs.

Park staff on site told CTV News that neither Seymour or Cypress would open this week because of their proximity to the city.

"Parks that attract large crowds will remain closed until it is safe to reopen at a later date," says a notice on the B.C. Parks website.

More than two dozen provincial parks in the South Coast region remained shut Thursday. Some of the popular provincial parks near Metro Vancouver still closed include:

  • Cypress
  • Mount Seymour
  • Porteau Cove
  • Shannon Falls
  • Joffre Lakes
  • Garibaldi Lake

But nearby parks that are open as of Thursday include:

  • Golden Ears
  • Alice Lake
  • Cultus Lake
  • Brandywine Falls
  • Blackcomb Glacier
  • Stawamus Chief

A full list of open parks can be seen on the province's website. 

Camping to reopen in June

People can also start to reserve campsites again starting May 25, with campgrounds at some parks reopening on June 1.

Heyman said existing reservations will likely be honoured unless a campsite has to be closed for spacing reasons, depending on the layout of the campground.

“It will be more limited in some ways, but at the same time, there may be reservations from people outside of British Columbia who may not be travelling,” Heyman said. “People from outside of the country, of course, have to self-isolate for 14 days so they may be cancelling reservations. It’s impossible to tell what’ll be available.”

B.C. Parks says communal facilities such as shower buildings will be available with enhanced cleaning protocols. People are also being asked to only visit parks that are close to home.

For a full list of park openings and closures, click here.