Metro Vancouver’s regional parks have seen record numbers in 2020, as people have turned to time in nature to ease the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In August alone, regional parks had over 1.8 million visits. That increased visitation led to some traffic, parking and physical distancing challenges, especially on weekends.
Metro Vancouver has been working with municipalities throughout the year, using both new and existing tools to manage demand. Initiatives include:
- Boundary Bay Regional Park – The parking lot was reconfigured to add a drop-off area and vehicle turnaround inside the park, reducing vehicle traffic in neighbouring residential areas. A free shuttle bus service was added to provide an alternative to drivers on summer weekends.
- Belcarra Regional Park – Parking lot capacity was reduced to help address concerns about parking and physical distancing at White Pine Beach. New municipal parking regulations along Bedwell Bay Road with increased fines and enforcement significantly improved the situation on days when demand was highest.
- Lynn Headwaters Regional Park – A free shuttle bus service was added by Metro Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver during the summer that served the park as well as the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve and Lynn Canyon Park.
Metro Vancouver also increased use of on-site electronic message boards, social media channels, and its website to communicate with park visitors. Twitter was used to provide real-time information on shuttle bus services and updates when parking lots were full.
New tools, such as a parking reservation system and pay parking, are being considered for 2021.