VISITOR ACCESS AND SERVICES AT PARKS CANADA AND ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE CANADA PLACES

Backgrounder

The health and safety of Canadians, visitors, and employees is of the utmost importance to the Government of Canada in the operation of federal protected places. Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada are following the advice of public health experts and are implementing measures to support Canada’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada will gradually resume some operations at selected national parks, national wildlife areas, national historic sites, historic waterways, and national marine conservation areas.


Partial resumption of operations – June 1

·  Starting June 1, 2020, Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada will offer limited visitor access and basic services at some national parks, national wildlife areas, national historic sites, heritage canals, and marine conservation areas across the country. There will also be a gradual resumption of some key field-based ecological and cultural protection activities.

·  In provinces and territories that have not opened their parks as a result of continuing concerns about the novel coronavirus, or where Indigenous partners or communities are uncomfortable with the resumption of visitor services, federal protected places will remain closed. This includes some ongoing closures of parks in the territories. Parks Canada will continue to work closely with local tourism-related businesses and associations throughout the gradual resumption of operations.

·  Visiting these places will be different than it has been in the past. Visitors should check the Parks Canada or Environment and Climate Change Canada websites to learn more about what is available and how to plan and prepare for their visit.

·  Visitors will be able to access outdoor settings such as:

o   Some day-use trails, including some cycling access on designated trails and
     pathways;

o    Some day-use areas, including green spaces, picnic areas, and some beach areas;

o    Some grounds of national historic sites and heritage canals;

o    Some boat launches or access points to lakes and water-based recreation; and

o    Some locks, boat launches, access points and mooring areas on historic waterways.


Access and services will vary. Some public toilets and other visitor facilities may be open. Visitors should expect limited levels of service and limited access to visitor facilities compared to previous years.

·  Some parking lots will be open. However, some may remain closed or reduced in size to facilitate levels of visitation that allow for physical distancing or other health, safety, or conservation measures.

·  Measures will be in place to manage garbage collection, washroom facilities and protect natural and cultural resources.

·  Admission to Parks Canada places is not free. Environment and Climate Change Canada and Parks Canada are working to ensure that measures are in place to safely collect fees and protect the health of employees and visitors. Canadians are encouraged to plan ahead and check with the Parks Canada website for more information.

·  Some recreational boating and water access may be allowed, including lockage, docks, mooring and boat launches. In some places, fishing may be allowed.


Critical services

·  Parks Canada will continue to deliver services critical for Canadians, including road maintenance, law enforcement, fire response, dam operations and water management, among others. The Agency has been delivering these services since its initial response to COVID-19 in March.


Reservations, activities and fees

·  All camping facilities including backcountry camping, oTENTiks, and other roofed accommodations remain closed until further notice. All existing reservations set to take place prior to June 21, 2020, will be automatically cancelled and refunded in full.

·  All group events and interpretive activities remain suspended until further notice.

·  Parks Canada will automatically extend the end date of Discovery Passes for the full duration of the suspension period. For each month or part of a month that visitor services are not offered due to Parks Canada’s efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, a full month will be added to the end date of the annual pass.


Victoria Day Weekend – May 15 to 18, 2020

·  The suspension of visitor services and closure of facilities remains in place at all national parks, national wildlife areas, national historic sites, heritage canals and national marine conservation areas over the Victoria Day long weekend. For their own safety, Canadians should not try to access locations that are closed, particularly this weekend.

· In anticipation of your next visit, follow Parks Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Take part in fun challenges and home-based Parks Canada themed activities such as:

o    sharing your best memories in Parks Canada places;

o    watching wildlife webcam videos;

o    becoming a #BackyardXplorer; or

o    discovering spectacular landscapes through 360 videos and Google Street view.


Visiting Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada Places

·  Please support the national effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

·  Visitors using day-use areas should follow the advice of public health experts, including necessary hygiene practices and physical distancing of two metres from others.

·  Services and facilities available to visitors, including search and rescue, will be limited. Anyone participating in recreational activities should be extra cautious to avoid injury and/or getting lost to help minimize the demands placed on search and rescue teams and on the health care system.

·  All Canadians should leave no trace when they are in any outdoor space. Please take all your garbage with you and keep these places clean.

The Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada websites will provide detailed information on what locations may be open and what services may be available and measures being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19. Visitors are asked to plan ahead by checking these websites before they travel:

Parks Canada – pc.gc.ca

Environment and Climate Change Canada – Current national wildlife areas https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/national-wildlife-areas/locations.html.

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