BC Hydro is rolling out a pilot project it hopes will help reduce traffic chaos around a popular park it operates in the the Tri-Cities area.
Under the plan, visitors to Buntzen Lake will need a reservation to access the park’s parking lot starting June 27 and running through to the end of the Labour Day weekend.
Reservations will be free, and can be secured through the BC Hydro website.
“Buntzen Lake is one of the most popular Lower Mainland outdoor recreation areas, and we’re hoping this will help alleviate ongoing traffic congestion which has been an issue for not only the parking lot but the nearby community of Anmore as well for the last several years,” BC Hydro spokesperson Kyle Donaldson said.
“On a lovely hot summer day there can traffic backups for several kilometres of vehicles looking for parking either in the parking lot or in the nearby community, so we’re really trying to alleviate that.”
Under the plan, people will be able to book a morning or afternoon reservation.Park staff will be on hand once the pilot is in place, and anyone without a reservation will be turned away, Donaldson said.
“The reservations are connected to individual licence plates of vehicles,” he added. “We’re asking people to respect the timeframe that they’re at Buntzen.”
BC Hydro says nearly 116,000 people used a vehicle to access the lake last July, up from about 83,000 in the same month in 2019.
The lake is a hot spot for recreation, particularly during the hot summer months, but with just 600 parking spots the the lot often fills up by 7 a.m. on weekends.
The nearby Belcarra Regional Park, which is operated by Metro Vancouver, has faced similar problems.
The issue has drawn complaints from neighbouring municipalities of long lineups of idling vehicles and people illegally double parking in the community.
Metro Vancouver is introducing pay parking at Belcarra in its own bid to address the problem.
Reaction from park users to the reservation plan was mixed.
“It might be nice to know you have a confirmed reservation, you can just pack up all your stuff and come here and know you have a spot,” Alysia Medina told Global News.
“It’s always a gamble, you come here with all your stuff and you don’t know how your day is going to look. I’ve come here many times and had to just turn around and go home.”
Chris Eastwood told Global News he thought the plan was a “bad idea,” despite summertime crowds.
Eastwood pointed to the province’s camping reservation system, which he said was a “pain” to use.
“There seem to be a lot of bugs with the websites the government puts out,” he said.
Donaldson said people who plan to use the park should secure their reservation the day before they plan to visit. Anyone who changes their plans should log on and cancel their reservation so that someone else can have the space, he added.