Don’t Go To Parks

Don’t Go To Parks

Tori Ball, Terrestrial Campaigner

Please excuse the dramatic (read: clickbait) title

Here at CPAWS-BC, we spend a lot of time and energy trying to help people get outside safely. The science behind the benefits of spending time outdoors is solid. Being outside can boost energy and creativity, improve your mood, and provide free aromatherapy. One study from the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that children with outdoor recesses had a reduced risk of nearsightedness.

Many people in Greater Vancouver base their weekend plans around time outside. A province that boasts the most diverse parks system in the country also has a great enthusiasm for outdoor recreation. Hopeful park visitors have recently been given a different message from multiple park agencies with the closing of parks of all types including provincial and federal parks. In alignment with our health authorities, we the “parks people” are also asking that you and your families don’t go to the parks.

Travelling to towns with terrific tourism options is a great way to spend your weekends and support our neighbours, yet right now it puts them at risk. An influx of visitors threatens not only to spread the novel virus COVID-19, but to overwhelm the capacity of smaller, rural hospitals.

Squamish and Whistler have both issued statements asking visitors to stay away, for now. These sentiments have been echoed from Tofino all the way down to Bishop, California. When these communities are open for business, we encourage you to head out and experience their trails, and stay for a while to enjoy other food and fun they have to offer. But right now, please stay put.

Just because you aren’t travelling to hike up Black Tusk or camp in Golden Ears this weekend doesn’t mean you need to seperate yourself from nature. There are cherry blossoms popping out across many streets in Vancouver and Victoria. My personal favourite springtime tree, the forsythia, is bursting with yellow flowers.

Forsythia in yellow bloom
Photo: Forsythia in bloom.

If you’ve got a window, you’ve got the opportunity to become a birder. Spring is one of the best times as migratory birds are coming back to their northern ranges. Check out 18 common birds in BC. Download one of these apps recommended by Bird Watching HQ that can help you identify birds.

Photo: Tree Swallows
Photo: Tree swallows

Your afternoon walk doesn’t need to be in a wooded area to still reep the benefits of getting outside. Natural sunlight (in moderate levels) helps to mitigate pain and provides you with Vitamin D, helping you to absorb calcium, prevents osteoporosis and reduces inflammation.

Our public health officials are saying this physical distancing is “for now.” This isn’t easy, shifting our plans and normal ways of being. It pains me to ask the CPAWS community of nature lovers to stay away from the majestic, awe-inspiring parks system.

Like many of you, I have summer camping reservations that are sitting in limbo. The best chance for all of us to be able to get outside and connect with each other in nature is to forgo this in the short-term.

Note: CPAWS-BC is not a public health organization. This information was developed based on current information from the BC Centre for Disease Control. Please consult your local health authority for advice and updates in your area.

Cover Image by Tori Ball

You can find a list of federal and provincial closures from: