North

No more absentee campers? Yukon looks to change rules for claiming sites

Right now you can occupy a Yukon campsite without physically being there for up to 72 hours. The government is proposing a 24-hour limit and a stiffer fine for violating the rule.

Proposal would reduce time a campsite can be left unattended from 72 to 24 hours

Ray Durell says some people leave unattended trailers at Wolf Creek for 72 hours. 'People come and put their campers in a spot on Tuesday and they come in Friday.' he says. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The Yukon government is hoping to crack down on people who claim sites at territorial campgrounds days before they intend to camp there.

Right now, someone can occupy a campsite without physically being there for up to 72 hours. 

That kind of behaviour annoys camper Ray Durell, who was frying fish at the Wolf Creek campground in Whitehorse on Friday.

"People come and put their campers in a spot on Tuesday and they come in Friday.' he says. "It should be first-come, first-served. Especially when you have tourists driving by. They need a place for overnight, they come in and all the spots are already taken."

Sites are sometimes occupied for several days by little more than a lawn chair. At times, that's lead to flared tempers and conflict.

The competition is particularly acute for sites in campgrounds near Whitehorse, where visitor numbers have been climbing in recent years.

The government is proposing to reduce the time allowed to leave a site unoccupied to 24 hours. It's also looking to hike the $50 fine for violating the rule.

Proposals based on campground survey

The proposed changes were prompted by a Yukon Parks survey, conducted by the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, last year.

Eighty-seven per cent of the people who filled out the 1,841 surveys were Yukoners.

Some popular camping spots like Wolf Creek, in Whitehorse, quickly fill to capacity when the season begins. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The survey found a majority (84 per cent) of campers were satisfied, at least most of the time, with Yukon campgrounds, though 25 per cent said they were dissatisfied with their ability to find a good campsite.

One of the main recommendations from respondents was better enforcement or control of site reservations. 

"By responding quickly to the main concern expressed in this survey, we can continue to provide enjoyable, healthy outdoor opportunities for Yukoners," said Environment Minister Pauline Frost, in a news release.

The government is looking for input to the proposed changes through another short survey.

It asks whether people support reducing the amount of time someone can leave their campsite unattended and whether the $50 penalty should increase — and by how much.

People can respond to the new survey until July 10.

With files from Philippe Morin

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