The District has removed barricades which were put up on Dyke Road to prevent vehicles from accessing the riverbank, however they say the area will still be patrolled to ensure social distancing consistent with the provincial directives concerning COVID-19.
The District first announced the barricades on April 9. The announcement they would be removing them was made April 14.
“Vehicles are now able to access the riverbanks; however, these areas will be monitored to ensure that physical distancing is being practiced at all times,” the District said on April 14 in a release reminding the public about the importance of following social distancing guidelines while in recreational settings outdoors. “Let’s work together to ensure that we can all safely enjoy our community’s natural assets.”
At no time has the riverbank been restricted to the public. In the District’s original statement on the barricades they said they were put up “due to COVID-19 congestion concerns”.
The Kitimat Northern Sentinel has reached out to the District to ask about why the decision was made to reverse the initial decision. In response the District said that it restricted vehicle access to the Kitimat River via Dyke Road because of incidents of groups of people gathering in the area without practicing proper physical distancing measures.
“Following the Easter Long weekend, the District of Kitimat re-evaluated conditions, with input from the RCMP, and decided to reverse the vehicular restrictions,” the District said. “This decision was made because it seems that community residents and guests are now aware that close-proximity social gatherings are not permitted on the riverbanks in Kitimat, or anywhere for that matter.” The District said that with their regular boat launch closed due to construction in Radley Park, they also wanted to provide access for boat removal from the river to allow people to enjoy drift boating on the Kitimat River.
Currently the Province has closed or heavily restricted access to a number of outdoor facilities. This includes BC Parks closing its entire parks system, including parks, protected areas, conservancies, recreational areas and ecological reserves. All camping facilities, including backcountry camping, are banned until May 31.
Locally, this includes Hirsch Creek Park and Radley Park, which will not be open for camping until at least May 31, 2020.
The public is still generally able to access trail networks across the Province, with the decision left up to individual municipalities on whether or not to close them. In the District of Kitimat pedestrians are still currently (as of April 17) able to access trails and the riverbank.