All of B.C.’s provincial parks were closed on April 8 in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but residents of the community of Fintry say people are still regularly entering a nearby provincial park — and they’re overcrowding the community.
Fintry Provincial Park — featuring wide open fields, a small beach, hiking trails and a stairway up to a waterfall — is a popular spot for people in the Okanagan to get some fresh air.
Fintry resident Tanya Coleman said she believes it’s primarily people from the neighbouring cities of Vernon and Kelowna who continue to visit the closed park.
“It’s just as busy now as it is in the summertime other than there’s no camping,” Coleman told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.
Coleman said that because visitors can’t park their vehicles in the park’s lots, which are closed, they’ve taken to parking on nearby residential streets.
“People are coming down, they’re parking on our roads, they’re blocking driveways,” Coleman said. “We actually had to get them off of our neighbour’s lawn the other day.”
In an emailed statement to CBC, B.C. Parks said it is aware people are still going into provincial parks, even though they’ve been told not to. Anyone caught in closed parks will be kicked out, and could face a fine of up to $115 per person, the statement said.
But Coleman thinks that opening the parks — for hiking and walking, but not camping — could solve the issue of overcrowding in communities close to parks, like Fintry.
“People need to get out,” she said. “The government’s saying, ‘Well yes, you need to get out, you need to use our parks, you need to wander.’ I think that was actually from Dr. Henry herself, but they’re closing all these all areas. There’s no perfect scenario.”
B.C. Parks said it will reopen parks as soon as it is safe.
“While B.C. parks have been closed to ensure public safety and help stop the spread of COVID-19, people are encouraged to find other outdoor spaces to enjoy that are close to their home,” the statement says.