The Joffre Lakes surge returns north of Pemberton

The Joffre Lakes surge is back, much to the dismay of Pemberton and Mount Currie locals.

Video footage shared with Pique shows a long line of cars illegally parked on the Duffey Lake Road outside Joffre Lakes on Saturday, Nov. 11. Vehicles can be seen parked to the yellow lines on a bend in the road, with people getting out to go hiking. Joffre Lakes reopened for day-use on Tues, Sept,19.

Lil’wat and N’Quatqua First Nations announced they were “shutting down” access to the park in a joint statement on Wednesday, Aug. 23. In a statement sent to Glacier Media the following week, the Nations said their access to resources has not been prioritized

Visitors have not needed day passes to enter the cultural site since Monday, Oct. 9, and backcountry camping season will end on Monday, Nov. 13. Lana Joy said she saw approximately 50 cars along the side of the road below and above the Joffre Lakes parking lot. Joy and other road users are concerned the dangerous stretch of highway was also not snow plowed after a heavy overnight snowfall.

“It wasn’t plowed,” she said. “It forced drivers like myself to have to make a blind pass into the opposite lane for a sustained period of time. I had to pull over at one point, getting very close to a group of people who really didn’t seem to clue in as to the risk of their situation, taking selfies and stuff.”

Joy said the obstruction could have easily caused her to have an accident. Like many others, she regularly uses the road, and is concerned about Joffre Lakes’ growing popularity.

“I have driven this route two to four times a month, for the last three years,” she said. “I have never seen such stupidity and lack of consideration for other drivers who are passing through. The area should be closed. People aren’t able to assess risk on the road, only increase the risk for others for the sake of vanity or lack of preparation.”

Jamie May was in the area the same day at 10:30 a.m., and was surprised the vehicles still hadn’t cleared when he was on his journey home, five hours later. He said he approached the RCMP.

“I was passing through on Saturday morning,” he said. “I spend a lot of time up there touring and hiking. Forty cm of snow had fallen and the road hadn’t been plowed. Just before Joffre, people had left their cars. It’s a really dangerous section. It was mostly Evo cars coming up from Vancouver. It was quite obvious that we were having the storm. Anyone that was responsible for plowing that road, knows how much snow is up there.

“There was a RCMP officer who ticketed someone. He said he couldn’t ticket everyone.”

Cpl. James Gilmour with the Pemberton RCMP confirmed police attended, and found five Evo cars parked illegally on the highway.

“Tickets were issued and some of the vehicles were also towed away. Most of the drivers were international travellers,” he said.

Chief Dean Nelson of the Lil’wat Nation previously told Pique Joffre Lakes is a cultural trail first and foremost.

“It’s like an amusement park. It’s a commodity for them,” he said. “People think they have to be there, to take the picture there. There is hunting there, too. We have actually had a lot of confrontation because of people going hunting on cultural trails. All of a sudden, there were mountain bikers ripping down wondering what the hell they were doing. It’s a cultural trail first. People would just love to have Joffre gone. It could be the future.”

Pique reached out to BC Parks, Miller Capilano Highway Services, and the Lil’wat Nation for comment, but did not receive responses before press time.

Roisin Cullen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Pique Newsmagazine

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