British Columbia

Control 'crazy' summer crowds in regional parks, mayor tells Metro Vancouver

From Deep Cove to Joffre Lakes, overcrowding in the outdoors has been a concern across British Columbia this summer.

Facilities haven't kept pace with population boom, village mayor says

Belcarra Regional Park, which provides easy access to Indian Arm and Sasamat Lake, is a popular draw in the summer months. (CBC)

From Deep Cove to Joffre Lakes, overcrowding in the outdoors has been a concern across British Columbia this summer.

In Belcarra, where beachgoers flock to Sasamat Lake on sunny days, crowding concerns are at the forefront of the municipal government's mind.

"When it's chock-a-block full, you see all kinds of crazy things — people parked right up against stop signs, they'll park beside fire hydrants, over the white line into the travel portions of the road," said Belcarra Village Mayor Ralph Drew.

"When it's a hot, sunny day then everything is fair game, it seems."

Pedestrians are all over the place too, Drew said, with people "blowing up rubber rafts in the middle of the road" and children running between open car doors.

"Something is going to happen," he said, referring to safety concerns when there is significant traffic.

'What can the region do?'

Drew recently penned a letter to Metro Vancouver, which administers Belcarra Regional Park, expressing these concerns and calling for traffic to be handled differently.

"As a municipality, all we can do is try to maintain safety through enforced parking bylaws. But the real question is what can the region do?" he told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

Belcarra, northwest of Port Moody, lies on a peninsula that juts into Indian Arm. (Village of Belcarra)

Improving public transportation to parks is key, he emphasized.

"We need to start thinking about how do you get the people from transit nodes to the park facilities," he said, suggesting a shuttle from the closest SkyTrain station as one solution.

"That's what Metro Vancouver needs to start doing — thinking outside the box in how they can handle the traffic and manage things differently."

Drew said the problem is that while Metro Vancouver's population has increased dramatically over the past few decades, park facilities haven't kept up.

"In Metro Vancouver, we are blessed by all kinds of recreational amenities, but here's the reality — they haven't changed in a generation," he said.

"As the population grows, people want to take advantage of the parks."

Belcarra is not the only community struggling to contain the crowds and control traffic.

This summer, Deep Cove in North Vancouver — just across Indian Arm from Belcarra — introduced parking restrictions and a limit on the number of people hiking the popular Quarry Rock trail at any given time.

"We're not unique," Drew said. "The same thing is happening on the North Shore, the same thing is happening in other places throughout the region as the population grows."

With files from The Early Edition.

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