Coronavirus: Municipal, regional parks in Okanagan to remain open, but social distancing a must

Unlike provincial parks, most, if not all, municipal and regional parks in the Okanagan will remain open during the long weekend.

However, officials in every jurisdiction have the same message: You must adhere to public health orders of practicing physical distancing.

Many parks have limited amenities, including playgrounds being shut down. In some cases, washrooms have also been closed to the public.

In the North Okanagan, the regional district made the decision to keep its parks open, but is encouraging residents to enjoy parks and trails in their own neighbourhoods or those that are less popular.

“The best choice is for residents to walk, run or cycle in their own neighbourhoods,” said Akbal Mund, chair of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee. “We have a large network of trails in the Greater Vernon area.

“Instead of visiting the busiest trails, like the Okanagan Rail Trail, we encourage you to discover something new, and that is preferably in your neighbourhood.”

Mund stated that the regional district is prepared to take the same step the province took by closing its parks — if people are found to be violating the rules.

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“Our decision to keep them open to the public does not mean we are not prepared to close them if people are clearly and consistently violating these measures,” said Mund.

In the South Okanagan, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) confirmed Thursday that its park also remain open, including the parks and trails that are owned by the province but operated by the RDOS.

This includes sections of the KVR Trail operated by the RDOS.

The RDOS is asking park users to leave the area if physical distancing is not possible.

As for the Okanagan’s three largest cities, municipal parks in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton remain open.

In an e-mail to Global News, a spokesperson for the City of Kelowna said bylaw officers started patrolling popular spots on the gator-mobile on Wednesday and reported that, for the most part, people were doing their part in maintaining their social distance.

Bylaw officers will be patrolling both municipal and regional parks more often due to COVID-19, educating people on the importance of spacing.

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