Opinion: Four-times the visitors at Buntzen Lake calls for measured restrictions

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the popular Tri-City destination has seen a major uptick in visitors from across the region.

Damien Clapa is the Process Safety Manager at BC Hydro.

COVID-19 has increased demand at BC Hydro’s recreation sites, and we have seen up to four times as many visitors trying access Buntzen Lake on sunny weekends. We’re accommodating as many visitors as our beach can safely support while following the physical distancing guidelines from the Provincial Health Officer.

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Visitors arriving by transit or bike are not prevented from entering the site; however, because space at the beach is limited, we have reduced parking slightly (we are filling our lots to 80-90% normal capacity) and will close the gated entrance to the park once additional visitors would be unable to physically distance at the beach and picnic areas.

This is consistent and more flexible than what other parks and beaches are doing to keep visitors safe. For example, the City of Vancouver drastically reduced parking at Stanley Park and Metro Vancouver recently reduced parking at White Pine Beach by 50 per cent.

We have been working closely with municipalities, including the Village of Anmore, monitoring parking and traffic in the area. Traffic backups impede emergency services and we have hired professional flaggers to help avoid this problem.  

It’s our job to ensure visitors can safely enjoy Buntzen Lake, which is a working reservoir for our hydroelectric facilities. It must be managed differently than a typical public beach, and that’s why we remain committed to working with local governments to make adjustments to ensure the community can safely enjoy it.

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