VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Snowshoers, backcountry skiers and climbers are out of luck if they want to access Garibaldi Lakes from a popular trailhead.
Garibaldi Park is so busy there are year-round reservations and fees in place to keep a handle on traffic.
Many head into the park via Rubble Creek access just south of Whistler – but the Ministry of Transportation recently put up a number of no parking signs at the trailhead.
Tom Curran with UBC’s Varsity Outdoors Club says last weekend he discovered there’s now essentially no where to park within a reasonable distance of Rubble Creek.
“Prior to going up I heard warnings that there were no parking towing signs in areas that I’d previously parked without any issues. I got up there and there was no clear parking area. I was, in the end, able to dig out a bit of a place to park of the unplowed road into the park. But it was quite stressful,” he says, estimating about 50 people were similarly frustrated.
BC Parks says it has never plowed the parking lot. In past years, visitors would park at the bottom of the road near the highway, and hike the extra two kilometres to the trailhead.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says parking on that road blocks plowing of BC Hydro’s right of way to Daisy Lake Dam.
Due to a high-risk landslide zone below Garibaldi Lakes, along the highway, there’s no alternative place to park for kilometres in either direction, making it impractical for people to reach reserved and paid for campsites in the park.
“No one can park within the barrier landslide hazard zone, unless they’re able to make it past the most dangerous area within 30 minutes,” according to the ministry.
All of this makes it impractical for people to reach reserved and paid for campsites in the park.
“If you’re willing to dig for like half an hour and you have a four-wheel drive vehicle you are able to park on the road into the park,” Curran says. “It seems a bit unclear right now. I think so far people haven’t been towed. The hammer hasn’t really dropped. Once the towing is enforced it will be quite bad.”
The province says refunds will be given to those who cancel seven days in advance — exceptions can be made on a case by case basis.
About 2,000 people are estimated to use Rubble Creek access each winter.
Highway contractor Millar Capilano says plowing Rubble Creek would cost between $12,00 and $18,000 each year.
2020 marks 100 years since the creating of Garibaldi Park which has become a symbol of underfunding as critics call out the government for yet again promising zero relief for the cash-strapped parks system in the recent throne speech.
Curran says access is inconsistent within Garibaldi and throughout the parks system.
“Certainly it would be nice to have uniform access to the various trailheads to the parks.”