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Crowds on Mother's Day weekend spark concerns over social distancing in Metro Vancouver

Last Updated May 11, 2020 at 6:36 am PDT

Some people have raised concerns about crowds amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This photo was taken at Coquitlam River.(Submitted photo)

There is plenty of concern online about a lack of physical distancing on Vancouver beaches

But the park board isn't as worried about a lack of physical distancing

Chair of the Vancouver Park Board says if you're looking at a photo it's tough to prove groups aren't two meters apart

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As the weather in Vancouver heats up photos of crowded beaches are sparking concern that physical distancing has been abandoned.

But city bylaw officials say crowds are undre control and the majority of people are cooperating.

This weekend photos circulated of Kitsilano Beach and the shores of English Bay filled with people, sparking concerns about physical distancing during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I’m seeing lots of that Twitter shaming photography,” says Vancouver park board chair Camil Dumont, who believes the pictures could be misleading.

“Sometimes it looks really shocking and sometimes it is. Other times it’s kind of the perspective; the way the camera is positioned and the way it’s taken. It looks super crowded, but actually it’s not as bad as it seems.”

Park Board Deputy General Manager Shauna Wilton believes we shouldn’t make assumptions.

“I understand in the photos to some people it does look very concerning, but we have to continue to trust that the people have had two months of physical distancing practice and they’re still keeping an eye on that,” she says.

“I have to trust that people were in groups with people that were either part of their household, or people that they’re starting to have limited contact with,” she says.

Since the B.C. government asked people to physically distance, Wilton says Park Rangers have been educating people about physical distancing in “hot spots” like Kitsilano Beach or Spanish Banks.

She also encourages people to discover other parks in the city.

“There were a number of parks throughout Vancouver yesterday [Saturday] that still had lots of open space. And this is really an opportunity to visit a park that you might not have before,” she says.

“We certainly continue to monitor the condition of the parks all the time, but we also appreciate the fact that it’s important to be outside for mental health and for exercise and so we’ll do everything we can to continue to keep everything open.”

Concern was expressed on Twitter when Cst. Lee Marten with the Vancouver Police Department shared photos of a crowded English Bay.

‘Significant drop in people’ along the Coquitlam River

Vancouver beaches weren’t the only busy sites in the Lower Mainland.

A photo posted on twitter shows appears to show several people ignoring social distancing rules along the Coquitlam River on Saturday.

Paula Jones, manager of bylaw services in Port Coquitlam says, fewer people were out on Sunday after RCMP and bylaw officers spoke to groups along the river.

“We’ve seen quite a significant drop in people out there. We’re giving them the message to keep their social distance if they’re not in the same family,” she said.

Jones says she recognizes people are doing their best. “Well, I think people just want to get outside. We understand that.”

This week, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C’s top doctor outlined ways to slowly open up social circles, but emphasized that physical distancing is still necessary. “We want outside, we don’t want people to congregate, we want us to do it in a safe way so that we continue some of the measures that we’ve had to stop transmission of the virus but increase our social connectedness.”