Winter in B.C. is beautiful, and more people than ever are experiencing its beauty through hiking, snowshoeing and skiing in provincial parks.
To address the growing surge of people visiting Mount Seymour Provincial Park during the winter, a free vehicle pass pilot program is being implemented to provide a more enjoyable visitor experience.
“Winter is the busiest season for Mount Seymour Park, especially during the holiday break, with downhill skiiers and park visitors sharing limited parking,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “We encourage people to stay active and safe this winter, and plan their visit to Mount Seymour Park in advance so they can enjoy a safe and less crowded experience.”
Located in North Vancouver, Mount Seymour Provincial Park is among the most popular winter destinations in the province, offering views of Vancouver and facilities for skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and tobogganing. In 2020, more than 1.1 million people visited the park, which is an increase of 20% since 2018, resulting in congested roads, parking lots and facilities.
Beginning Dec. 15, 2021, people will be required to have a free vehicle pass to access the upper mountain parking lots (P1 and Lower P5) between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Visitors with a valid ski hill pass to Mount Seymour Resort do not need a BC Parks pass.
So people can plan ahead, morning or afternoon vehicle passes will be available online at 7 a.m. (Pacific time), two days prior to arrival, at: bcparks.ca
Since cellphone service may be unavailable, visitors will need to print or download a copy of the vehicle pass on their mobile device before arriving at the park.
The free vehicle passes are part of a comprehensive strategy to protect nature and improve managed access to popular provincial parks and trails. During the next three years, BC Parks is investing $21.5 million to expand and enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation, including new campsites, trails and upgrades to facilities in high demand areas. Many of the projects will improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
“We know people care deeply about our provincial parks and want them managed effectively,” said Kelly Greene, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment. “Our most popular parks are seeing more visitors than ever, and investing in our parks ensures they are cared for and inclusive for everyone to enjoy.”
As part of the winter vehicle pass pilot program, BC Parks is partnering with the BC Parks Foundation’s Discover Parks Program to have ambassadors welcome people to Mount Seymour and provide education about safe and responsible recreation.
Every year, B.C. search and rescue volunteers respond to approximately 1,900 incidents. More than 30% of those incidents are for snowmobilers, backcountry skiiers, hikers and snowshoers. The vast majority occur in the East Kootenays and Sea to Sky regions.
“Our collective goal is to optimize access to the mountain and reduce congestion so that everyone can enjoy a safe and high quality experience,” said Eddie Wood, president and general manager, Mount Seymour Resorts. “BC Parks‘ responsible approach to managing visitor volume ensures safe and easy access for park visitors who are sightseeing and using the backcountry, and it aligns with the volume-management system we put in place for the downhill operation.”
Before heading out for a winter adventure, plan a trip that matches your skills and abilities, and leave a trip plan with someone who is not going with you. Check the weather forecast, road conditions and BC Parks web page for any notices or trail conditions.
In the backcountry, severe weather and avalanches are the two primary hazards. Know the terrain and conditions, bring a transceiver, probe and shovel, and ensure everyone in the group has completed the Avalanche Skills Training course.
"The North Shore mountains offer easy access to beautiful backcountry terrain and Mount Seymour Provincial Park is no exception. This region of British Columbia is one of the highest search-and-rescue incident call volume regions in the province,” said Sandra Riches, executive director, BC AdventureSmart. “We support BC Parks initiatives that educate park visitors about responsible recreation which reinforces public safety. Outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to always have a trip plan, proper training and essentials.”
BC Parks will evaluate the third phase of the day-use pass pilot program to inform future decisions and approaches for day passes in provincial parks.
To book a free pass, visit: https://bcparks.ca/
Map of the parking lots for which the vehicle pass is required: https://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/mt_seymour/parking-map.pdf?v=1638987447914
For more information about the day-use pass pilot program, visit: https://bcparks.ca/reserve/day-use/
For more information about winter safety, visit: https://www.adventuresmart.ca/