EDITORIAL: BC Parks day pass policy doesn't pass the test

A walk in the park just isn’t what it used to be – not for Mount Seymour and Cypress provincial parks, at least. As of this week, anyone wanting to enjoy the upper trails on the mountains must first go online and get a pass.

To be clear, this was not on the advice of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, so it’s not directly a result of COVID-19. But with most other options for recreation closed, cancelled or curtailed, throngs of people have been showing up in parks seeking a badly needed boost in quality of life.

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It’s no surprise that provincial parks on the outskirts of Canada’s largest western city have been popular, but the province never made it clear that things were so dire that bouncers and a velvet rope were the best option. And it appears there was scant consultation with trail user groups or the public.

More than being a sad restriction on access, there are some foreseeable problems with the pass policy.

Because of the technical constraints of the booking system, you can’t get a pass until 6 a.m. on the day of your hike. For farther flung destinations on the Howe Sound Crest Trail and Mount Seymour, that simply does not leave enough time for safe planning.

There has been no robust communications plan, so we expect a lot of people to show up not even having heard about the passes.

And, like squeezing a balloon, it’s only going to send more people to other municipal or regional parks that are experiencing their own spike in demand.

Thankfully, the province says this is only a pilot. We hope as things return to normal, park use will too. Until then, we’ll take a pass on the pass system.

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