The high demand and limited supply for parking in the area around Buntzen Lake, a popular outdoor recreation site in Anmore, B.C., has prompted a new parking reservation system to reduce traffic congestion.
B.C. Hydro, which manages the lake, has set up a free parking reservation system that will be in effect from June 27 to Sept. 5. All drivers will need to make a reservation a day in advance of their visit with the option of booking a morning or afternoon timeslot.
B.C. Hydro spokesperson Kyle Donaldson said there will be staff on-site checking parking reservations.
"Unfortunately, if you don't have a reservation, staff will be turning you away," he said.
Donaldson said it was not unusual to see long traffic backlogs due to drivers trying to access the parking lot, which would often fill up early in the morning.
In 2021, the parking lot had to be closed more than two dozen times because it reached capacity limits, sometimes as early as 8 a.m.
Anmore Mayor John McEwen applauded the new system, saying traffic congestion was getting to a point where emergency vehicles weren't able to move through the streets while enforcement cost the town thousands of dollars annually, as RCMP officers were hired to monitor the situation on weekends.
"There's been a considerable problem," he said, a problem that was amplified as more people sought outdoor entertainment during the pandemic.
"It was absolutely unbelievable, the demand that was put on this lake."
B.C. Hyro says more than 700,000 visitors use the trails and swimming areas at Buntzen Lake annually. Nearly 116,000 visitors accessed the area by vehicle last July, up from 83,000 during the same month in 2019.