The province is calling for feedback from British Columbians on changes to manage crowds at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, one of the most popular outdoor destinations in B.C.
For several years, the area 30 kilometres east of Pemberton, and about 180 kilometres north of Vancouver, has been plagued with an overflow of cars parked along the highway and crowds of people looking to spend the day around the park's chain of aquamarine waters.
The park has been closed during the pandemic but in 2019, it had nearly 200,000 visitors, according to the province — a 222 per cent increase since 2010. Some have blamed social media for fuelling the skyrocketing interest in the park.
B.C. Parks has tried several measures to control crowds, including expanding the parking lot capacity from 250 to 350 vehicles, adding washrooms in the parking lots and implementing a reservation system for backcountry camping.
Improvements to the park's trails beginning in 2013 have made it much easier to hike, especially around a boulder field between the Lower and Middle Joffre Lakes.
The province's new long-term strategy is developed with the Lil'wat Nation and N'Quatqua and aims to recognize First Nations stewardship.
Aside from overcrowding issues, it also addresses chronic problems like unauthorized trails and trampled vegetation, garbage, feeding of wildlife and illegal parking.
It proposes free day-use passes to manage crowds and help visitors better understand and respect the park, and encouraging visitors to come during off-peak times.
The plan also proposes celebrating First Nations culture within the park and continuing the First Nations Park Stewards Program, a pilot project introduced in 2019 to educate visitors about the cultural significance of the park.
The full draft of the proposed plan can be found on the B.C. Parks website.
The public is invited to provide feedback on the plan until April 4.