Parks Canada closing national parks, historic sites to vehicle traffic

  • Parks Canada closing national parks, historic sites to vehicle traffic

Parks Canada closing national parks, historic sites to vehicle traffic

Parks Canada will shut down vehicle access to its already closed parks and sites beginning Wednesday because visitors keep coming despite COVID-19 warnings.

After Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week that Parks Canada was suspending visitor services at its sites, Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson took things a step further Tuesday, announcing that Parks Canada is closing all access to its sites.

With favourable weather across much of the country over the weekend, and many Canadians itching to get outside after being cooped up indoors due to social distancing, Wilkinson said many parks have experienced a surge in traffic.

Wilkinson said crowded trails and sites increase the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and "that is why Parks Canada is implementing new measures to address this concern".

Vancouver city officials pulled a similar move in recent days, after visitors continued to show up at city parks and beaches despite health authorities' recommendations to not congregate or gather in groups.

All highways and roadways passing through Parks Canada places will remain open, allowing commercial and through traffic to continue.

"We are asking all Canadians to respect these restrictions", Parks Canada said in the news release.

This comes after a spike of visitors were seen numerous parks including Banff National Park last weekend. "To be clear, this is unsafe".

"I know that this has been a particularly challenging time for many of us".

Parks Canada says the move is meant to significantly reduce visitation and is in respect to the advice of public health experts to stay home and avoid public gatherings.

All traditional Indigenous activities will continue as will needed highway maintenance, snow removal, dam operations and water management.