North

Whitehorse Walmart enforcing ban on parking lot campers

The Walmart parking lot is now off-limits to overnight campers, and the company appears to be enforcing the ban. Some travellers told CBC they were asked to move on. 

'It's made a difference here, there's no doubt,' said owner of one local RV park

RVs parked in the Whitehorse Walmart parking lot — now only allowed by day. (Kaila Jefferd-Moore/CBC)

It was one of Whitehorse's most popular RV parks — until this year.

The Walmart parking lot is now off-limits to overnight campers, and the company appears to be enforcing the ban. Some travellers told CBC they were asked to move along. 

For years, Walmart welcomed passing travellers to stay overnight in its vast Whitehorse lot, free of charge, and enjoy inspiring views of the Canadian Tire and Starbucks. It's something that happens at other Walmarts across Canada and the U.S.

In Whitehorse, it wasn't unusual to see people settle in for lengthy stays, and maybe even put out the awning, barbecue, and a few chairs.

But last year the company decided enough was enough. It cited customer complaints about safety and debris in the Whitehorse parking lot.

'A step in the right direction'

Lil Demchuck, a traveller in Whitehorse from Elk Point, Alta., said she was surprised to hear of the ban in Whitehorse. She said she's camped at other Walmarts before, and it's a great option.

"It is very handy at night, especially if you need to do some shopping," she said. "People that camp here always shop, so I would think it'd be an advantage to Walmart, to have people stay."

The Whitehorse Walmart parking lot in 2018. The company decided last year to put a stop to overnight camping at its Whitehorse store, citing customer complaints about safety and debris. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

Others thought Walmart made the right decision in Whitehorse.

Steve Basset, travelling in his camper van from Dawson City, said travellers should support local businesses instead of camping for free.

"I'm glad they banned it," he said. "They shouldn't have done it in the first place."

Cam Dickson, visiting from Ottawa, said he also understands Walmart's decision. 

"I see nothing wrong with it — it's their business. Their reasons are valid, and I'm a guest here on their property," he said. 

And Morris Kostiuk, owner of Pioneer RV Park and Campground in Whitehorse, says he's also pleased because the Walmart camping ban has been good for his business.

"Well, it's certainly a step in the right direction. I think it's working relatively well," he said. 

"It's made a difference here, there's no doubt."

Motorhomes parked at a Whitehorse RV park. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

 

With files from Kaila Jefferd-Moore

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