B.C. provincial park makes controversial decision to ban dogs

Dogs in Joffre Lakes Park [Credit: Melissa Van]

Man’s best friend will have to stay home when his owners visit Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, according to a controversial new rule being implemented by B.C. Parks.

“While we love our furry friends, this has unfortunately led to issues with visitor experience, public health concerns and conservation efforts,” a post on the park’s Facebook page reads. “Dogs on and off leash impact wildlife in the park. [. . .] No longer allowing dogs or other domestic animals will help us protect the park, its wildlife, and the people who visit it.”

UPDATE: This policy will be going into effect at a later date but still ahead of the busy summer season. We will share…

Posted by BC Parks on Monday, April 30, 2018

However, some critics of the policy say that dogs are not the real problem.

“It’s the amount of people that are going there that’s the issue and they’re not respecting nature,” Julie-Ann Chapman, a dog owner who no longer visits the park much due to overcrowding, told the CBC.  “…So yes, it is a mix of irresponsible dog owners, but it’s also responsible mountain people.”

The park, which is near Whistler and Pemberton, has seen a big increase in visitors in the last few years, due in part to the park’s popularity on Instagram. 

Can it be summer already?☀️ @joffrelakes

A post shared by Joffre Lakes (@joffrelakes) on

But with the spike in demand have come some issues — including increased garbage.

Chapman says that the route to the lakes used to be more difficult to access, which restricted its use to “mountain people.” But now that the park has removed a boulder field and made the main trail easier to access, she says she sees people in stilettos and flip-flops, not to mention people who let their dogs roam without restrictions.

Facebook user Tim Hunt responded to the park’s Facebook post with a similar argument, stating that the route to the top lakes used to be “difficult hike and took skill and proper footwear,” and that the people who used it tended to leave less garbage lying around. “Now it’s full of people racing up to the top more focused on getting a cool photo for Instagram or Facebook than the actual experience,” he wrote.

The park said in a press release that they’ve seen dog waste not being picked up and ending up in the water, and that many dogs have been swimming in the lakes, which some use for drinking water. And while policy for the ban has not yet been finalized, the restriction will be enforced before the summer season begins.

Dog-owner Melissa Van took to Facebook to dispute the park’s reasoning. “One, I blame you BC parks for removing the boulder field to make the trail more accessible for those looking for the perfect “Instagram” photo —  or the herds of your buses coming up by the bus load to picnic. I can’t tell you the amount of litter I have personally packed down from humans. Not to mention the litter I have put in my dogs pack to get more out of the park,” she wrote.

“But sure, blame dogs.”

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