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2020 a record year for Metro Vancouver parks

Regional parks like Iona Beach saw 16.5 million visitors last year
Minnekhada Regional Park in Coquitlam was among the regional parks that saw increased use in 2020 amid the pandemic. Photo: Metro Vancouver

With a pandemic keeping people away from gatherings and indoor activities, Metro Vancouver regional parks were more popular than ever last year.

There were 16.5 million regional park visits in 2020, according to the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD). That's a big jump from 2019, when there were 11.9 million visits to the 23 regional parks, five greenways, two ecological conservancy areas and two regional park reserves.

"Metro Vancouver has kept regional parks open throughout the pandemic so residents can safely enjoy the outdoors,” says Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors, in a news release. "We ask all park visitors to stay local and continue to respect public health directives for physical distancing, hand-washing and avoiding crowded areas.”

Regional parks include Pacific Spirit Park by UBC, Burnaby Lake Regional Park and Iona Beach.

That usage trend appears to be continuing into January. In the first month of 2020, before the pandemic hit, 550,000 visits were recorded in regional parks. This year, there were 1.2 million.

In the release, the MVRD notes adding park space is a priority for the regional government. 

"Through the Regional Parks Land Acquisition Strategy, Metro Vancouver is working toward an extensive, connected and resilient network of parks and greenways," states the MVRD in the release.

Right now, all the regional parks are open, though backcountry trails are closed due to unsafe winter conditions.

While park visits broke records in 2020 for the regional district, park events and activities were down in City of Vancouver parks in 2020.