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Popular Whistler parks a no-go this May long weekend

Full campfire ban in place; RCMP prepping increased presence
Whistler’s fan-favourite Rainbow Park won’t reopen until July at the earliest.

Visitors to Whistler this weekend hoping for some lake time might be fighting for space—some popular local parks are still under construction as the May long weekend approaches.

At Rainbow Park, where a $3 million-plus rejuvenation project is well underway, you’ll find mostly dirt and inaccessible areas, separated by fencing cutting a path through to (the admittedly still awesome) Barking Bay off-leash dog park.

According to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), work at Rainbow restarted April 2 and is progressing smoothly, with the majority of the park scheduled to reopen in July.

Last summer guests and locals alike had the alternative option of Lakeside Park, on the other side of Alta Lake, but as of this writing, it, too, is undergoing some improvements, with a large stretch of lawn closed until the end of June.

And just in time for the long weekend, pay parking returned to Alpha Lake Park, Wayside Park and Lakeside Park as of Wednesday, May 15.

Transit is free in Whistler all weekend, from Saturday, May 18 to Monday, May 20, but all campfires are prohibited.

According to the RMOW, the Whistler Fire Rescue Service responded to the smouldering remains of an illegal fire in White Gold on May 13, not long after instituting a blanket campfire ban in the resort—and that was on the heels of a few other illegal fires over the weekend.

“Everyone in our community plays a role in wildfire prevention, so we ask that they respect the campfire ban and educate themselves on fire safety with our resources at This includes information on construction restrictions when the danger rating gets up to high or extreme,” an RMOW communications official said, in an email.

“We would also like to remind the community that now is the time to consider wildfire preparedness, such as signing up for Whistler Alert, doing a FireSmart assessment on your property, having a grab-and-go bag ready and keeping a minimum half tank of gas in your tank at all times.”

Previously considered a problem weekend in Whistler, marred by mass, underage public intoxication and violence, the May long weekend of today is far tamer than what it once was—but the public can still expect increased RCMP enforcement this weekend.

“Sea to Sky RCMP members will be collaborating with Police Dog Services, BC Highway Patrol-Integrated Road Safety Unit, and the Uniformed Gang Enforcement Team [with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia] to conduct enforcement. The public can also expect to see our local Sea to Sky RCMP members conducting foot and bike patrols through the Village and in local parks, and participating in the Children’s Festival events on Saturday and Sunday,” said Cst. Katrina Boehmer of the Whistler RCMP.

The RCMP has seen a “consistent decrease” in calls for service over the past few May long weekends, but strategic planning with the RMOW and other stakeholders remains a priority, Boehmer added.

“We have a committee that meets every year to plan for long weekend activities and crowds, which includes looking at hotel occupancy trends and reviewing after-action reports from previous year’s events, to identify both successes and where improvements can be made,” she said.