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Residents flock to Fraser Valley parks amid pandemic

Some trails saw usage double during summer months of 2020
Cascade Falls Regional Park is one of several Fraser Valley parks that saw record usage during the summer of 2020. (File photo)

With 2020 upending the normal course of life in the Fraser Valley, residents have turned to the region’s plethora of parks.

Across the Fraser Valley Regional District’s park system, usage rose by more than 10 per cent over the summer, according to a report by FVRD staff.

The FVRD parks include Sumas Mountain Regional Park near Abbotsford, Cascade Falls Regional Park near Mission and several parks and trails on the outskirts of Chilliwack. They don’t include city parks.

Popkum Community Trail, near Chilliwack, and Cascade Falls Regional Park saw particularly large spikes in the number of users.

Nearly 80,000 people used Cascade Falls Regional Park over the four summer months. That’s a record and nearly double last year’s total. Usage of that park had peaked five years ago, when suspension bridge opened near the falls in 2015. But even in 2015 and 2016, usage never topped 55,000 visitors.

The usage of Popkum Community Trail and Cheam Ridge Regional Trail more than doubled over the summer.

“Community trail usage was noted to have increased substantially in the months of March and April of this year when compared to the same months last year,” staff wrote in a report to be presented to the FVRD’s board this week. “The cause for this increase was attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and that users were taking advantage of local outdoor opportunities. This trend has continued into the summer.

“It is apparent that local parks and trails are being well-utilized in light of COVID-19 challenges.”

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