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Distancing signage at Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver. Credit: Metro Vancouver
Regional parks in Metro Vancouver experienced unprecedented visitation rates in 2020. Nearly 16.5 million visits—a 38% increase over 2019—demonstrate the absolute necessity of parks, particularly during a pandemic.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry throughout the pandemic has encouraged outdoor physical activity as an effective way to reduce stress while supporting physical and mental wellbeing.
“While regional parks have always been popular among residents and tourists alike, these natural spaces became an unexpected refuge for the region’s residents when the many challenges presented by COVID-19 emerged,” says Metro Vancouver. “Regional parks provided spaces for people to safely connect with loved ones, quiet places within nature for mental wellbeing, and venues for physical exercise when most indoor fitness locations were closed.”
Keeping parks open has been essential. In the spring of 2020, while we were gathering information about COVID-19 and reacting to the reality of a worldwide pandemic, some provincial and municipal parks agencies temporarily restricted public access to parks, seeking to keep the public safe. “Though many reopened by early summer, the temporary closures caused increased pressure on Metro Vancouver’s regional parks system, which has lasted into 2021,” reports Metro Vancouver. “Additionally, with many people unemployed or working from home, residents found more opportunities to connect with friends and family safely [in regional parks].”
Metro Vancouver adapted quickly to keep regional parks open, implementing a variety of strategies to ensure residents could visit parks safely. Signage, cleaning, and traffic management have been some of the strategies taken. Metro Vancouver has continued throughout the pandemic to maintain, improve, and expand the regional parks system.
|Download Summer 2021|
Read more about regional parks in Metro Vancouver’s “Parks Contribute to the Health of the Region” in the Summer 2021 edition of Input. Download Summer 2021
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