British Columbia

Relief could be coming for Joffre Lakes 'anarchy'

B.C. Parks says it wants to make going to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park a more enjoyable, and less hectic experience.

B.C. Parks looking into enforcement of illegally parked cars

A lineup of cars parked around the Joffre Lakes trailhead shows just how packed the popular B.C. hiking trail can get. (Echo Culture/YouTube)

B.C. Parks says it wants to make going to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park a more enjoyable and less hectic experience.

Jennie Aikman, the regional director for the South Coast Region says they are working with the Transportation Ministry and the RCMP exploring enforcement options and strategies for the coming season.

The commitment comes after Steve Jones, a North Shore outdoor enthusiast decided to look into why drivers were able to park their vehicles illegally on the shoulder of Highway 99.

The documents revealed that under the province's Motor Vehicle Act, RCMP cannot ticket a vehicle, unless the driver is present.

Widespread frustration

There was also widespread frustration expressed in documents from the Pemberton RCMP detachment. 

RCMP didn't return CBC's request for an interview. But in the documents, Cpl. Mike Hamilton emailed the Mainroad Group, a road maintenance contractor, urging it to put safety measures in place along the highway. 

He wrote about a failed attempt to educate the public about parking rules on Highway 99.

"After approximately two to three hours, I was forced to completely abandon this endeavour," he said. "I experienced what I can only describe as driver anarchy and mass crowds. I was nearly struck head-on by an inattentive motorist."

Aikman says another issue in enforcement is lack of cell service. 

"There's a lack of communication or emergency phone lines at that location," she said. "So, in the event that a vehicle was to be towed from the highway, there's no recourse for the operator to call out [to get a ride home]."

Instagram famous

The rocks at the upper lake at the end of the Joffre Lakes hike are often packed with people. A round trip to this point and back down again is about four hours. (Shutterstock/LeonWang)

The brilliant turquoise blue of Joffre Lakes is a perfect backdrop for photos, making it a social media darling. Aikman acknowledges the park has gained notoriety thanks to Instagram.

The provincial park — about 45 minutes north of Whistler, B.C. — has become one of the South Coast's most popular hikes, leaving B.C. Parks scrambling to manage concerns about overcrowding and environmental preservation.

Aikman says park staff are already monitoring the park more regularly.

"We've gone from twice a week visits from our park operator to daily visits from the park operator and we've increased a park ranger presence in the park."

 She's hopeful improvements can be made in time for this summer.