British Columbia

Illegally parked vehicles at Joffre Lakes will be towed this weekend, B.C. Parks warns

For the past two years Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has seen a surge in visitors looking to explore — and photograph for social media — the area's turquoise lakes and snow-tipped mountains.

Growing popularity of beauty spot in recent years has led to parking on highway

The Joffre Lakes trailhead is often swamped with parked vehicles. (Echo Culture/YouTube)

B.C. Parks says it will lay down the law at a popular beauty spot north of Pemberton to curb illegal parking this long weekend.

For the past two years Joffre Lakes Provincial Park has seen a surge in visitors looking to explore — and photograph for social media — the area's turquoise lakes and snow-tipped mountains.

The park is a 2½​-hour drive north of Vancouver.

The traffic has often overwhelmed parking lots, leading to people parking along Highway 99.

Now the agency says it will tow vehicles parked illegally along the highway.

'Parking not permitted on highway'

"Attention Joffre Lakes Provincial Park visitors!" begins a post on B.C. Parks' Facebook page. "We are expecting the park to be very busy on the long weekend."

It says the trailhead and overflow parking lots will likely fill up early each day and that parking is not permitted on the highway.

"Cars parked along the highway this weekend will be towed," it says.

Earlier this year, BC Parks banned dogs from Joffre Lakes to try to improve conservation efforts at the park.

'So few trails'

Advocates, like outdoors blogger Steve Jones, say limiting access for the short-term is the wrong way to go, considering that the only place to go is home if both parking lots are full.

"So, not too happy about any approaches in the short term to cut off access," he said about the towing warning.

"There are so many families in B.C. and tourists that want to get out into the mountains and right now there are so few trails that are reasonably easy to hike on."

He thinks the government could have implemented a shuttle from other parking areas along Highway 99, or at least flaggers to ensure safety at Joffre Lakes.

Meanwhile, he is calling on the NDP to spend more on parks through upgrades or even new places.

Many attribute the increased traffic at Joffre Lakes to its Instagram fame. (Shutterstock / karamysh)

Municipalities want more, too

It's something the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is also asking for through a resolution at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

The Village of Pemberton has also submitted a resolution asking the province to develop a trail-booking and reservation system fee structure. 

This week, B.C's Minister of Environment George Heyman said supporting parks is a key priority.

The NDP added $5 million in the 2018 budget for parks and recreation in addition to the $35 million that the Liberals added to increase campsites in 2017.

The government also recently hired 25 new park rangers, Heyman said.

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