B.C.’s parks pass system is now active, allowing locals to book a visit to one of five provincial parks.
The pilot program was first implemented last summer in an effort to protect the environment by addressing a surge in visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic at popular parks, four of which are located on the southern coast.
Starting Wednesday (June 23), passes will be required at Joffre Lakes, Mount Robson’s Berg Lake Trail, Stawamus Chief’s Backside Trail, Garibaldi Park at Diamond Head trailheads, Rubble Creek, Cheakamus and Golden Ears Park.
“The number of passes available each day will be adjusted to accommodate as many visitors as possible,” said the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy in a June 15 statement.
“Youth will not require a pass when accompanied by a parent or guardian with a pass.”
Other changes to this year’s pass program include expanding the booking time to 7 a.m. the day prior to arrival.
“While it’s wonderful to see the public appreciation for parks and outdoor recreation, this is creating real environmental pressures and posing park management challenges for all jurisdictions,” said executive director Dawn Carr of Canadian Parks Council.
Visitors often stay on popular trails and the overuse of the pathways leads to environmental impacts such as soil erosion, altered hydrology, damaged vegetation and more garbage from littering.
In the last decade, day use in provincial parks has increased by 34 per cent.
In 2018-19, BC Parks had 26 million day-use visits. More than 42 per cent of them were visitors concentrated on the south coast, such as the 853,700 logged at Golden Ears Park.
“Day-use passes have really helped us to safely and effectively manage the volume of traffic entering the park to prevent overcrowding,” said Golden Ears operator Stu Burgess.
BC Parks plans to evaluate the second phase of the pilot program for future consideration of day passes within the park system.
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