Next week, the District of Squamish will be reviewing a bylaw proposal that, if passed, will hopefully limit the number of problem campers while allowing the remainder of them to be fined.
“Every year, Squamish sees an increasing number of people attracted to Squamish’s outdoor recreation opportunities,” reads a council report. “As the total number increases so do the number of people choosing to camp in inappropriate areas.”
The report notes issues like waste management, attracting wildlife, wildfire risk, and even just bothering locals.
Staff members have also had to spend more and more time dealing with complaints surrounding illegal campers — but they’ve lacked the authority to enforce since there’s no bylaw that restricts camping within municipal boundaries.
The proposed bylaw would “encourage” campers to camp in designated campground or outside of municipal boundaries.
Routine patrols will take place and assistance from other law enforcement will be used as well.
The proposal seeks to exempt two areas from the restrictions, including a section of the Mamquam Forest Service Road (FSR), as well as an area close to the Cat Lake Recreation Site, next to Highway 99.
In the case of the Mamquam FSR, the municipality says the area can “potentially accommodate 30-40 vehicles for camping” and because of its close proximity to the Raffuse Recreation Site, “so enabling that area to be utilized by campers would enhance capacity close by the Chief for campers visiting to rock climb.”
When it comes to Cat Lake, “this area is more accessible to non-offroad vehicles and adds capacity for campers whose vehicles cannot drive the somewhat rough Mamquam Forest Service Road.”
The proposal also emphasizes that “education and voluntary compliance will be prioritized over ticketing.”
However, any person breaking the bylaw could be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000.
The District of Squamish will meet and discuss the proposal on Tuesday, May 21. If passed, training with a bylaw team and partner agencies is expected before the end of the month.