Port Moody mayor warns of domino effect if visitors can’t use parks responsibly

With sunshine and warm temperatures in the weather forecast for this weekend, Port Moody’s mayor is hoping people will beat the heat further afield.

Rob Vagramov said the whole province of British Columbia is “full of beautiful scenery and lakes that are well suited for chilling.”

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His entreaty comes after a busy summer weekend at Belcarra Regional Park, in the city’s northwest corner, that he said sparked numerous complaints to his office and on social media about crowding at White Pine Beach, as well as traffic and parking concerns along Bedwell Bay Road that carries traffic to the area. In fact, the parking lots at the park that surrounds Sasamat Lake filled so quickly, Metro Vancouver closed vehicle access by 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

“Why limit yourself to Sasamat Lake?” Vagramov said, adding since Port Moody banned parking along the road’s shoulder last May, bylaw officers have issued hundreds of violation tickets, some have been threatened by irate motorists, and signs have been tossed into the woods.

Port Moody city manager Tim Savoie said 109 tickets were issued just last Sunday, and another 74 on Saturday. Several vehicles were also towed, and more would have been impounded were it not for a shortage of tow trucks, he added.

Tuesday, council’s committee of the whole was scheduled to consider a proposal to double the fines for parking violations to $100 from $50.

The village of Belcarra, which also borders the park, has tripled fines for motorists parking illegally within its borders and is temporarily implementing a permit parking system for residents.

Vagramov said he’s hopeful BC Hydro will soon open more capacity for vehicles and visitors to its Buntzen Lake recreation area in Anmore to take pressure off Belcarra as well as the city’s own waterfront parks at Rock Point and Old Orchard.

After being closed for several weeks early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Buntzen Lake reopened June 6 with limits to the numbers of vehicles allowed in its parking lot and one-way directions implemented on its hiking trails.

Vagramov said the closure of any park because visitors can’t follow health and safety guidelines would have a domino effect throughout the region.

“Due to extreme demand, one park closing down would push demand onto neighbouring parks which are already stretched to capacity,” he said.

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