Englishman River Falls Provincial Park will re-open May 14. (Michael Briones photo)

Vancouver Island’s provincial parks ready to reopen

Visitors advised to follow physical distancing protocols as day use returns to selected parks May 14

The relaxation of pandemic restrictions on Vancouver Island doesn’t officially arrive until next week.

But lovers of our great outdoors are getting a tasty appetizer tomorrow.

Closed since April 8, a large number of Vancouver Island provincial parks are set to re-open for day use May 14, setting the stage for a Victoria Day long weekend focused on a healthy helping of socially-distanced fresh air.

RELATED: B.C. closes all provincial parks for COVID-19 protection

RELATED: Selected B.C. parks set to open for day use May 14

According to B.C.’s recently released restart plan, provincial parks will open for day use only and will include opening day-use and recreation sites that can “safely provide existing service levels, such as garbage disposal and washroom facilities.” Playgrounds, picnic shelters and visitor centres will remain closed.

Trails will be open for hiking, biking and horseback riding, where permitted, but camping facilities and playgrounds will remain off-limits, at least until the beginning of June.

Residents are being encouraged to avoid long trips and instead stick to visiting nearby facilities, while following social distancing guidelines of maintaining a two-metre distance from people outside your immediate household.

Among the provincial parks that will be opening:

NORTH ISLAND: Brooks Peninsula, Broughton Archipelago, Cape Scott, Elk Falls, Lower Nimpkish, Nimpkish Lake, Quatsino, Raft Cove, Strathcona, Woss Lake

MID-ISLAND: Englishman River Falls, Helliwell, Little Qualicum Falls, Miracle Beach, Rathrevor, Spider Lake, Sproat Lake, Tribune Bay. The Regional District of Nanaimo has also re-opened the Horne Lake Regional Park boat launch for public use as of May 7.

NANAIMO: Saysutshun Newcastle Island Marine, Petroglyph, Gabriola Sands, Sandwell, Drumbeg, Morden Colliery Historic, Hemer, Roberts Memorial, Pirates Cove Marine, Whaleboat Island Marine.

COWICHAN: Bamberton, Chemainus River, Cowichan River, Eve’s, Gordon Bay, Koksilah River, West Shawnigan Lake,

SOUTH ISLAND: French Beach, Goldstream, Gowlland Tod, Sooke Potholes, Spectacle Lake. Also, Sooke’s regional parks such as Whiffin Spit, Marine Boardwalk, Ed Macgregor, and Sooke Bluffs parks reopened May 1.

STILL CLOSED: Carmanah Walbran, Clayoquot Arm, Clayoquot Plateau, Dionisio Point, Discovery Island Marine, Horne Lake Caves, Juan de Fuca, Kennedy Lake, Loveland Bay, MacMillan, Maquinna Marine, Morton Lake, Nitinat River and Sooke Mountain

Visitors are expected to respect any facility or area closures and advised to bring their own hand sanitizer and practice appropriate hygiene.

If you are sick, BC Parks advises that you please visit another time. For more information on provincial parks, including a complete list of closures and re-opening visit the BC Parks website.

National parks meanwhile, including Pacific Rim National Park, remain closed until at least May 31.

RELATED: Parks Canada extends closures until at least end of May

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