Reinstalled parking signs at Coquihalla recreation area spark backlash

 | January 9, 2021

B.C. Ministry of Transportation cites miscommunication regarding parking at popular touring area

Photo MOTI

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) said signs telling visitors to limit their stay to one hour were recently cleaned and replaced at the Highway 5 Zopkios brake check and rest area at the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area.

The parking signs, originally installed several years ago, caught the attention of backcountry users who frequent the area and caused a large outcry online from the skiing community.

Some recreational area users reported allegedly being threatened with having their vehicles towed if passenger vehicles were found at the Zopkios brake check area for longer than one hour starting in the new year, although the MOTI told SPIN in an email the threat was a mistake.

“It seems there was a misunderstanding about the ministry’s approach to towing vehicles. Enforcement of parking for passenger vehicles isn’t planned as long as parking does not impede traffic or winter maintenance activities.” 

According to the ministry the signs are actually intended for commercial vehicles to prevent overnight stays at the Zopkios brake check, not for passenger vehicles recreating in the Coquihalla backcountry.

“Although there are one hour parking signs to prevent trucks and commercial vehicles from parking overnight, vehicles enjoying the backcountry are permitted to park in the area longer,”  the MOTI said.

Even though the signs don’t indicate that they are for commercial vehicles only, MOTI is looking for ways to support and clarify parking for backcountry users in the Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area. 

BC Parks echoed a similar notice on their website, which stated:

“For safety reasons, the signs are intended to prevent commercial vehicles from parking and congesting the Zopkios Brake Check area which significantly impacts the maintenance contractors ability to operate during storm cycles.”

No new parking restrictions have been established and there are no signs installed at two other recreation access points, the Falls Lake interchange and Boston Bar parking areas, for the Coquihalla Summit Rec. Area. 

However backcountry users remain confused with the reinstalled signs, according to Nathaniel Thomas, a regular user of the area.

“People are parking wherever is good enough. Parking is already limited and there’s lots of cars that are on the shoulder of the road.”

In light of the lack of parking, MOTI stated they are working with BC Parks to explore more long term parking and access options.

“Maps are currently being developed to clarify through lanes, maintenance areas and potential parking areas,” MOTI said. “We anticipate they will be available via social media and BC Parks’ website this week.”