Crowds grow on North Vancouver trails despite social distancing guidelines

Nicole Priebe / May 6, 2020

Even further social distancing is encouraged on the hiking paths.
(Photo: Nicole Priebe)

Since the closure of all recreation and fitness centres in North Vancouver, many residents have taken their daily exercise outdoors- specifically the trails.

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry has stated numerous times that people are encouraged to go outside- as long as physical distancing guidelines are being met.

This however, has become a challenge with the active North Vancouver community. Proper physical distancing has become hard for trail users due to high volumes of people passing by on narrow paths.

Non residents are crossing the bridge to use the parks and trails on the North Shore which is only adding to the problem.

District of North Vancouver spokesperson, Courtenay Rannard said these hiking routes are busier than usual for this time of year.

“Our local parks and trails are experiencing and increase in visitors that are comparable to a Summer weekend which means that some people can’t maintain a proper distance between themselves and others.” – Courtenay Rannard, District of North Vancouver

The crowding has caused the District to make the decision to close access to the popular Quarry Rock and Lynn Canyon trails which experience high volumes of people year-round due to their beautiful scenery and tourist attractions. The municipality, along with the rest of the province does still encourage people to get outside for physical activity, but certain measures have to be taken to ensure everyone’s safety.

“The pathways leading up to Quarry Rock and the trails surrounding the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge have been closed to prevent overcrowding and encourage physical distancing as much as possible. Those areas typically get a lot of visitors so we wanted to try and limit that and encourage safety.” -Courtenay Rannard, District of North Vancouver

Rannard explained that other trails have remained open so that residents can still enjoy them during this difficult time.

Other trails do remain open as we do understand that it’s really important for people to be able to get outside during a time when the news and day-to-day life can be really overwhelming.” – Courtenay Rannard, District of North Vancouver

The physical distancing rules in parks and trails are different than those on the streets. A two metre distance is required at all times due to the fact that while doing physical activity, heavy breathing emits more particles into the air and they travel almost twice as far as the breath of someone who is resting.

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Baden Powell Trail

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Bridgman Park

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Lynn Canyon (closed)

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Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve

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Powerline Trail

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Cleveland Dam/ Capilano Canyon

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Quarry Rock (closed)

North Vancouver resident and frequent trail user, Caroline Brooks has had to avoid her usual trail route to stay clear of the crowds. Brooks said the sudden increase of visitors did not come as a surprise.

“As soon as the gyms and rec. centres closed I knew that people would turn to the trails. We have such an active community here on the North Shore and people need to move their bodies- especially during a time like this when stress and anxieties are running high.” – Caroline Brooks, North Vancouver resident

Brooks explained how residents who live on the streets surrounding the parks or trail entrances feel uneasy about the waves of visitors.

“The trails and parks are for everyone. I don’t have a problem with people coming, but I guess just high volumes of people is what makes me nervous. I don’t worry just for my safety- but theirs too! I wonder if they know the proper distancing rules on the trails, because I didn’t!” – Caroline Brooks, North Vancouver resident

While outdoor exercise is still encouraged, health professionals advise that you make smart decisions when going out.

Travelling in small groups during “non-peak” hours on less popular routes is what the District recommends people do.

These precautions are put in place to ensure that everyone can continue to use the parks and trails safely and as an outlet for any energy or stress built up during these trying times when we are told to stay indoors. The district’s goal is to keep their outdoor spaces safe so they can be beneficial to people’s health instead of a threat.

The closure of the North Shore’s two most visited trails not only keeps hikers safe, but also the residents who live close by.
(Courtesy: Nicole Priebe)