Frequent hikers of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in Pemberton are annoyed that it’s become swamped with hikers, tourists, and nature enthusiasts, according to an article on CTV News. In 2017 alone, Joffre Lakes saw over 120,000 visitors to the park, and, also in 2017, all of B.C.’s parks combined saw a total of 21.5 million visitors.
This influx of park visitors has people up in arms. What was once a closely guarded secret is now a well known selfie destination. That, and the increase in visitors means an increase in safety concerns: hikers and campers leaving garbage that will attract bears, the few self-important idiots who think the fire ban doesn’t apply to them. (Have you watched the news lately, or perhaps looked up toward the apocalyptic nightmare that was our sky for over two weeks? Please don’t start fires, kids.)
As of 2011, Vancouver was recorded as having 603,502 residents, and in 2016, was estimated at having 610,000 residents. That’s 603,502 – 610,000 people crammed into 115 km², and doesn’t include Surrey (470,000), Burnaby (224,000), Richmond (190,000), Coquitlam (128,000), or, further on, Abbotsford (135,000). And, because Vancouver is well known for its natural beauty (once you step away from the concrete and traffic jams), people flock to it from all over the world. In simple terms: Vancouver is busy.
And those people like to take breaks — hey, who doesn’t? But what those people don’t like is when their favourite hideaway is suddenly swarming with other people looking for an escape. Understandable, but also, did they really think it wouldn’t happen?
But the city is on it, planning and organizing ‘til their fingers bleed: expanded parking lots! More park rangers! Having to reserve hiking trails! Sure, these may work in the short term, but what happens when Vancouver expands further, when more tourists inevitably visit?
An important note about these changes: I can guarantee no one wants to reserve their hike. How many people do you know who say “I’m going to hike in this exact spot, on this exact day, at this exact time”? Not many, I bet. Most of them wake up after a night out, slam a glass or three of water, and get their asses out of bed for a post-partying hike to nullify the effects of those six tequila shots and a party-sized plate of nachos the consumed the previous night.
I think overflowing parks and hiking spots are just an offshoot of a bigger problem: overpopulation. Look anywhere and you’ll see it: no places to park at the grocery store, no seats available in your favourite coffee shop, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway every single day (but that’s an entirely different article). Why? Because there’s too many damn people living in and visiting Vancouver.
What I find stupid about the complaints that Vancouver is busy is that these people choose to live around here. They chose to move to Vancouver or the surrounding area, or they already lived here and chose to stay. No one is forcing them to live here. If they wanted, they could move somewhere with less people. Like Hope, or Castlegar, or a cabin on the Alaskan tundra.
But these people chose to be here for a reason. Perhaps it’s the nightlife, or the natural beauty of B.C., or the Starbucks on every second corner. Regardless of what the reason is, they made the choice to be here, and, generally, adults are expected to take responsibility for their choices.
There are two morals to this story. One: things change. Be glad you’re around to see it, even if you don’t like it. Two: humans are surprisingly adaptable (so get used to the idea of probably having to reserve your hiking spots).