Province vows to crack down on illegal parking at Joffre Lakes Park 

BC Parks releases long-awaited visitor management plan

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - The trail at at busy Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is shown here
  • photo by Joel Barde
  • The trail at at busy Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is shown here

The province has announced its long-awaited visitor management plan for busy Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.

And it's letting it be known that it's planning on stepping up enforcement of illegal parking this summer. "Enforcement of illegally parked cars along the shoulder of Highway 99 will be underway," according to a press release sent out by the province on June 25, just in time for the Canada Day long weekend.

"The public is reminded that parking is not allowed along the highway. Instructions on how to recover a towed vehicle are posted at the Joffre Lakes trailhead." BC Parks will also be installing an emergency satellite phone at the trailhead of the park, which has seen a dramatic increase in visitation over the last decade.

The surge in visitation—the park received over 180,000 visitors last year—has resulted in safety issues related to people illegally parking on the shoulder of the highway, and ecological damage from littering.

The new plan—which BC Parks is calling the Joffre Lakes Park Visitor Use Management Action Plan—involves the additional presence of two First Nations stewards who will work alongside rangers, and expanding the parking day lots to accommodate an additional 200 vehicles.

The parking-lot expansion will occur in phases, with the overflow lot expanded in early summer and the main lot expanded in the fall.

The province has also unveiled its plan for a shuttle that will run between the Duffey Lake Park and Joffre Lakes parking lots, providing additional capacity.

Operated by Parkbus, the shuttle bus is to run every Saturday, Sunday and holiday Monday throughout the summer and will cost $10 per person (round trip).

"Our government is committed to finding solutions for the exceptional growth at Joffre Lakes Park that protect the environment and improve public safety," said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in the government release.

Noticeably absent from the plan is pay parking and day reservations, both of which were being floated as viable ways to help manage the crowds.

Village of Pemberton council has expressed frustration towards BC Parks over a perceived lack of engagement around the development of the management strategy.

Reached by phone on the day of the province's big announcement, VOP Mayor Mike Richman said the Village has not received any additional information, apart from what was publicly released, about the management strategy.

Richman voiced concern about how tourists will access their cars if they are towed.

"Part of me wonders, who will be doing the towing, and where the cars will go to, and how do they get them back?" said Richman. "I'm not saying that the plan is totally wrong. I'm saying that there are too many (missing) details for me to wrap my head around."

Richman also noted that Pemberton only has two tow trucks, and that they are often dispatched to incidents on the highway.

"If you're towing to the Pemberton area, how many tow trucks are you talking about? We only have two in the area," said Richman.

He added that while he is hopeful that the shuttle will alleviate parking on the shoulder of the highway, he is concerned that people will continue to flout the rules and the shuttle will simply lead to even more visitation.

"Is it going to have that (positive) end result or is it just going to bring that many more people to the area?"

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