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Opinion: Hot weather brings a new wave of Burnaby trail bullies mucking things up

City issues reminder of how to use local parks and trails safely
Deer Lake trail is one way.

A combination of hot weather and increasing local COVID-19 cases is driving more people to get outside.

But that’s leading to more “trail bullies” who don’t know how to safely use Burnaby trails amid coronavirus, according to veteran walkers furious at what they’re seeing out there in recent weeks.

“I know calling them ‘bullies’ seems harsh, but these people get so confrontational when you politely remind them of the rules,” says Teddy D, who is a regular walker who does the loop around Burnaby Lake. “Last weekend was terrible. You get these large groups who don’t wear masks, but stretch across the width of the trail and refuse to make way or give you any room. All I want is to be able to pass them at a safe distance.”

Another reader named Alice told me that she’s stopped doing the Deer Lake loop because there are still too many people who aren’t following the “one way” signs that the City of Burnaby put up last year so people will all walk the same way.

“I literally point to the signs that are up and people give me the finger,” Alice said.

On Friday, the city issued a news release reminding people to follow the rules when using local parks and trails.

“Before venturing out, please be aware of current provincial health orders to ensure that what you are planning is permitted,” the city said.

At this time, according to the current order from the Provincial Health Officer up to 10 people can gather outdoors. For example:

  • Up to 10 people may gather at a park or beach
  • Up to 10 people may gather in the backyard of a residence
  • All restrictions for indoor gatherings remain in place. No gatherings of any size are allowed indoors

Do not gather with several groups of new people – stick to the same people. Continue to use COVID-19 layers of protection and maintain physical distancing.

  • Bring what you need with you such as hand sanitizer and a face mask. Please note masks are required in indoor public spaces such as park washrooms.
  • Masks are not required outdoors but we encourage wearing one when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including when hiking or walking on popular or crowded trails.
  • All groups must stay together and keep their physical distance from other visitors. 
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick. Do not visit if you or any member of your party is feeling sick or are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, have been exposed to COVID-19, or have traveled outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

Park Use Etiquette

“Burnaby’s parks and trails are popular and can become crowded very quickly,” said the city. “Parks are public spaces which means they are for everyone to enjoy. Be prepared to share park space and trails with walkers, runners and cyclists. Please be respectful and courteous of other park users when visiting by following these basic rules: 

  • Park in designated areas, not residential areas or areas where parking is not permitted.
  • Take up only the space you need in the park. You may arrive early and have lots of space to set up but please be courteous and leave room for others. 
  • Picnic tables are first-come, first served. Please note that when gathering outdoors you still need to maintain a physical distance of 2 meters apart from one another when standing or sitting, unless you are from the same household. Group picnic areas are currently not available to book.
  • Propane barbeques are allowed in all parks. Charcoal and open-flame barbeques are only allowed at Deer Lake, Fraser Foreshore, Central Park, Robert Burnaby, Confederation and Barnet Marine Park as these locations have ash pits on-site for the safe disposal of hot ashes. Campfires are not allowed at any of our parks.
  • Don’t blast your music. Not everyone has the same taste in music.
  • No littering. If garbage cans are full, please take your garbage with you.  
  • Keep your dog leashed unless you are in a designated off-leash area. Please immediately pick up and properly dispose of your dog’s waste.   
  • Please stay to the right when walking or running on trails and pass others on the left.
  • If wearing headphones while on our trails, ensure the volume is at a level that you are able to hear others approaching.

If you arrive at a park and it is crowded and you cannot find a space that allows you to maintain physical distance from others, please come back later or consider visiting during non-peak days and times.”