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Parks Canada to suspend visitor vehicle access at national parks, historic sites

Last Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 1:01 pm MDT

Wild plains bison cross the Panther River in Banff National Park in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Parks Canada, Dan Rafla MANDATORY CREDIT

OTTAWA – Parks Canada has announced more steps to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Effective midnight Wednesday, Parks Canada is temporarily suspending all motor vehicle access by visitors at all national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas.

The organization says the move is intended to reduce the number of visitors and respect the advice of public health experts to stay home and avoid public gatherings.

“The government’s top priority remains the health and safety of Canadians,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who is responsible for Parks Canada, said in a news release. “The window to contain the spread of COVID-19 is short and we must all change our behaviours now to flatten the curve and reduce the burden on our health-care system.”

In a statement posted to its website, Parks Canada is asking Canadians to stay home amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. “Anyone considering a visit to a Parks Canada location, including those in urban areas, should cancel their plans as vehicle access for the purposes of visitor use will be suspended until further notice.”

Last week, Parks Canada said it was closing all visitor services and facilities including washrooms and day-use areas until further notice.

All traditional Indigenous activities will continue as will needed highway maintenance, snow removal, dam operations and water management.

Parks Canada said highways and roadways that go through the parks and historic sites will remain open for residents, but they are urged to stay home unless it’s essential travel.

Commercial and truck traffic will also be allowed on those corridors, including the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park.


-with files from The Canadian Press