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City nature park usage returned to normal in 2021

2020 saw a boom in park visits, up beyond one million, while 2021 park visits numbered around 600,000
Kenna Cartwright Nature Park
Kenna Cartwright is the largest municipal park in British Columbia, spanning an area of 800 hectares.

The city’s nature park visits returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, following a significant spike in 2020.

City of Kamloops parks manager Jeff Putnam told KTW the city measured about 600,000 visits to its nature parks last year, which is down from one-million-plus visits in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trail counters are located at a dozen different trail heads in the city. Putnam said the latest numbers compare to those of 2019.

“More normal levels,” he said.

Putnam said one benefit of reduced nature park usage is a reduction in illegal trail formations. Putnam said the city saw a spike in park damage in 2020, which he said he thinks was due to people new to outdoor hiking and biking unaware of need to stay on trails to protect them.

“We saw a lot of damage in 2020 and we’re still recovering from that,” Putnam said.

Putnam noted cycling was another pandemic-related recreation trend, with many people having purchased bicycles in 2020. Other popular pandemic-related activities included baking, online fitness classes and learning musical instruments.