The UBC Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC) is taking action to address winter accessibility issues in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
At the start of February, the province installed no-parking signs at the beginning section of Daisy Lake Road, which is typically plowed by the province.
In years past, backcountry enthusiasts had parked alongside this part of the road, then trekked up the unplowed section to access the Rubble Creek trailhead.
The no-parking signs mean that access to the park is "severely restricted," said Haley Foladare, huts coordinator for the VOC.
To address this, the VOC—which operates the Burton Hut, located around 16 kilometres from the trailhead—plans on digging out a section of the road that is unplowed on Saturday, March 7.
This work is being undertaken in coordination with the Whistler section of the Alpine Club of Canada and the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia (FMCBC), which oversees many of the outdoors clubs in the area, according to the VOC.
"Our goal is to dig out 10 to 15 parking spots," said Foladare. "We want to show that this is really important in that we're willing to work at it to find a solution."
Foladare said that she thinks the province's decision to put up the signage didn't adequately take into account the needs of the "winter access community."
"It is understandable that [the province does not] want people parking there because it does block access to some things ... but they really didn't give recreationalists any other options," said Foladare.
The shovelling job will be a big one.
Located at around 400 metres in elevation, Foladare said that she anticipates about two metres of wet snow will need to be removed from the road and its shoulder.
She's hoping to draw out around 40 or 50 people—a mix of VOC members and the wider outdoor community.
Foladare added that while the project doesn't represent a "permanent solution" to the problem, it would help provide access in the interim.
The undertaking will "show the government and BC Parks that this is really a key area and hopefully secure funding to plow the road in future years," she added.
The province's decision to install the signage has frustrated members of the backcountry community, who see it against the backdrop of underfunding of the agency.
Despite an increased media focus on overcrowding and staffing levels at some of the province's busiest parks, the B.C. government has elected not to increase funding to BC Parks for its upcoming fiscal year.
In fact, according to the most recent Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy service plan, the province will downgrade its allocation to the agency from $41.6 million (for the 2018-19 fiscal year) to $40.7 million (for the upcoming fiscal year, ending in March 31).
Going forward, this level will be maintained (with a $200,000 increase next year) until the end of the forecast period (2022/23).
In response to the Rubble Creek Trailhead issue, a petition was circulated calling on the outdoor community to work with the province to "get the lot plowed and accessible year round." The petition has over 500 signatures as of Feb. 28.
Foladare said that she has been in discussion with BC Parks about funding the snow removal from the actual road, but said that it would be prohibitively expensive and that she was told BC Parks cannot accept donations for specific jobs.
Foladare said that the VOC is facing access issues at all four of the huts that it operates.
While unable to go into detail about these issues, she said they relate to logging, road de-activation and the Wildlife Act.
In the end, she is hopeful that the undertaking will lead to a permanent solution to the accessibility issues at the trailhead.