Cars were lined up at both Golden Ears and Rolley Lake Provincial Parks for the Victoria Day holiday.
On Monday, May 18, there were 39 cars in line at the front gate before Golden Ears park even opened, said Stu Burgess with Alouette Park Management, the park operator for both Golden Ears and Rolley.
Five minutes after they opened – at 7 a.m. –55 cars had already entered.
The gates had to be shut at 9:30 a.m., because 50 per cent capacity had already been reached, Burgess explained.
Then throughout the day, they had intermittent opens, and by days end there were 3,368 vehicles that had visited the park.
“That doesn’t count all the people that were turning around outside of the park gate on the road when they saw the closed signs and they ran into the big lineup of traffic,” said Burgess, adding that they turned away about 2,000 cars.
“In the busiest period, we actually checked the counter over the course of one hour and it said we had something in the effect of more than one car coming in through the gate every ten seconds,” he said.
The weekend, though, started off slow, he noted.
On Saturday only about 1,400 cars entered the park.
On Sunday the rainy weather in the morning might have deterred people, he said. But, about 11:30 a.m., when it started to clear, they reached 50 per cent capacity at around 3 p.m. and had to close the gate.
They opened it again at around 6 p.m. and, Burgess estimates, there were about 1,900 vehicles that entered the park throughout the day.
Rolley Lake was busy but manageable over the long weekend, said Burgess.
However, they had to close the gate at around 11 a.m. on Monday and they didn’t open it again until 6 p.m.
Hayward Lake was closed over the long weekend.
The recreation areas at the park have been closed since late March, “due to a high concentration of visitors and the need to adhere to the Public Health Office Order on large gatherings,” said B.C. Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder.
Hayward Lake is part of B.C. Hydro’s Stave River hydroelectric project located between the Stave Lake Dam and the Ruskin Dam. The reservoir is one of three located along the river.
“We are taking a staged approach to safely reopening our recreation sites and campgrounds across the province,” said Rieder.
B.C. Hydro’s target date for reopening Hayward Lake trails, beaches and picnic areas is in early June.