Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge had sunny, clear skies before smoke covered the sky. (THE NEWS/files)

Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge had sunny, clear skies before smoke covered the sky. (THE NEWS/files)

Golden Ears park full despite Maple Ridge’s smokey skies

Environment Canada has issued air quality advisories throughout the lower mainland.

  • Aug. 20, 2018 4:00 p.m.

Despite poor air quality and limited visibility, the campsites at Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge remain fully booked.

Stewart Burgess, park operations manager, said today is particularly bad.

“Today is the worst I’ve ever seen. The visibility across the lake is maybe two to three kilometres at best.”

During hot summer weekends, Golden Ears park often reaches full capacity and closes temporarily until visitors start to clear out.

The park did not close to day-users this past weekend.

“There was less (people) than usual over the weekend. It wasn’t busy enough, I think the smoke was keeping people at home,” added Burgess.

The air quality health index in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows hit a rating of nine – on a scale of 10, on Monday, according to Metro Vancouver.

Burgess said the online reservation system for B.C. parks, Discover Camping, offers a refund to campers who have reservations on days where the air quality index reaches seven or above.

So far, Burgess reported that approximately three to four campers have left due to air quality.

But air quality doesn’t scare away the majority, as Burgess said Golden Ears continues to attract visitors.

Sasquatch Provincial Park, located north of Harrison Hot Springs announced its closure on Aug. 11 because of a wildfire burning nearby and remains closed.

“We’re also getting people from other parks closed, from Sasquatch Park which has been closed for a week now,” added Burgess.

All areas surrounding the Lower Mainland currently exceed an AQHI index of over seven, which is a high health risk, and is caused by a high concentration of smoke particles in the air.

The province of B.C. recommends reducing or rescheduling strenuous outdoor activities.