Editorial: Time to treat Squamish backcountry like Disneyland | BC

Editorial: Time to treat Squamish backcountry like Disneyland

Imagine going to Vancouver’s Playland or to Disneyland Park and all the rides are there, but there are few trash cans and only a couple of carnies.

Though signs advise visitors of proper behaviour and protocol, most days, it is fundamentally an honour system. In other words, a free for all.

That is basically what Squamish’s outdoors have become.

Decisions by powers that be over years have deliberately turned our favourite Sea to Sky nature spots into tourist meccas akin to amusement parks, which aren’t staffed or outfitted as such.

Most of us who live here would like to assume that recreationalists, like the majority of us who live here, #leavenotrace and behave responsibly when they #exploreBC in Squamish.

That is not the reality.

And frankly, we wouldn’t expect visitors to Disneyland to behave if the park were not staffed.

Without supervision, attendees are going to litter, abuse the rides, and be rude to Goofy.

That is, like it or not, human nature, it seems.

This wasn’t as much of a problem in the backcountry when people who lived here were the ones who recreated in the backcountry.

Many of us who grew up with nature as our backyards were raised to respect it — "take only memories, leave only footprints."

Those few who left a mess couldn’t ruin the whole thing.

But nature is losing the numbers game now.

Those flocking here have not necessarily ever been to places that aren’t monitored and managed like amusement parks or resorts.

They are drawn here by marketing pictures that don’t tell the sustainability story many here were raised on.

The recently-announced increase in parking spots at Alice Lake Provincial Park isn’t a solution.

Even in January, during a pandemic, several spots in our more easily accessible backcountry, such as in the Squamish Valley, are freshly littered with garbage.

Travel advisories due to the pandemic aren’t working.

The resulting trash is a nightmare for our precious wildlife and their habitat and frankly disgusting for those of us who live here. It is also unfair to the current BC Parks rangers and Conservation Officers Service officers who are spread so thin.

MLA Jordan Sturdy told The Chief that in addition to further public education, he believes another 200 campsites that were previously in the works for our area and more funding for the more rangers and COS officers would help control the trash.

In fact, there needs to be dozens more enforcers, co-ordinated with the RCMP and First Nations peacekeepers, out every day in the summer and every weekend in the winter patrolling corridor provincial parks, regional parks and all the backcountry in between.

This isn’t the way any locals wanted it, but we can’t continue the way things are.

Since the provincial government has made our backcountry into an outdoor adventure park, it needs to staff it as such.

@ Copyright Squamish Chief