Visitor management at BC Parks – the Mount Seymour Provincial Park story
If you’ve spent time at Mount Seymour Provincial Park, you’ve experienced its incredible splendor – an opportunity to experience forests, wetlands and alpine and a wide variety of recreation activities only kilometres from downtown Vancouver.
Due to its proximity to the city, this park is no stranger to crowds. Mt Seymour is a popular park which experiences peak visitor days especially through the winter season, in particular on weekends and holidays. The park annually hosts over 600,000 people between December and March, with many visitors travelling from outside the local north shore communities, and with limited parking availability.
Over the last number of years, our staff have been undertaking research and analysis to understand this complex issue and exploring visitor use management strategies for our most highly visited parks, including Mount Seymour Provincial Park. Public access and parking capacity have been identified issues at Mt Seymour Provincial Park for several years.
Visitor use management supports the protection of significant cultural and environmental values and upholds a quality visitor experience that balances infrastructure capacity, staff and resourcing levels to optimize public access, and safety for everyone.
In 2014, BC Parks completed a discussion paper which reviewed the complex land management, diverse stakeholder interests and infrastructure limitations at Mt Seymour. The 2014 paper outlined potential solutions including a ‘quota’, facility plan development and infrastructure improvements to connector trails, parking and shuttle access.
Since this 2014 paper, detailed site analysis and development options for new parking and transportation scenarios were completed in 2018 by Brent Harley and Associates (BHA). This included analysis on terrain conditions, visitor surveys, jurisdictional authority, impacts on local neighbourhoods, and integration with public transit. The report outlined short, medium and long term solutions to ever increasing visitor numbers.
The introduction of the winter day-use pass program
In 2020, the Day-Use Pass Pilot Program was launched as part of our response to managing risks and physical distancing requirements associated with Covid-19. Based on learnings from the pilot, and given the substantial access and parking pressures we experience every winter at Mount Seymour Provincial Park, we implemented the first winter day-use pass season at the park in winter 2021/2022. The introduction of pass requirements for day-use visitors reduced congestion and increased parking predictability, and because of this, the program was continued for winter 2022/2023.
Mount Seymour Recreation Facility Plan
As we work to advance improvements for access and transportation at Mount Seymour Provincial Park, we are currently working with Urban Systems to develop a Recreation Facility Plan for Mt Seymour Provincial Park with First Nations, stakeholder and public engagement.
We want to hear your thoughts to help inform the Recreation Facility Plan. We’ve released a survey to gather your perspectives about Mount Seymour Provincial Park – how you use the park, your experience of the park, and what facilities you are interested in seeing there moving forward. We look forward to hearing from you.