As you may have heard, this week, BC Parks announced a winter vehicle pass pilot program for Mount Seymour Provincial Park. This program requires that as of December 15th all visitors to the provincial park for hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, or camping to have permits, with online booking of the permits beginning December 13th at 7am. The permit program ends (as of now) on March 31st, 2022. While the permits are free and unlimited, they come with some new restrictions that will affect your visits to the park. Here’s a brief overview of what to expect if you want to spend a day (or night) up on Mount Seymour.
- If you are heading up the mountain and not using Mount Seymour Resort (if you don’t have a ticket to ski or snowboard) you must book a parking permit for day use of the provincial park. This means Dog Mountain, Dinkey Peak, Brockton Point, Pump Peak, Tim Jones, or Mount Seymour.
- The permit is technically for parking in the upper mountain backcountry lots (P1 and Lower P5), and only one permit is needed per car.
- The permit-required hours are 7am (when the gate opens) to 4pm.
- There are two permit windows: 7am-12pm (morning) and 12pm-4pm (afternoon.)
- If you book a morning permit, you must vacate the parking lot by 12pm (no word on how this is enforced.)
- If you will be arriving after 4pm for evening activities, you do not need a permit.
- Permits will be bookable exclusively online up to two days before the day of your adventure, beginning at 7am. This means for a Saturday visit, booking will begin Thursday at 7am.
- Passes can’t be shared beyond one car and are non-transferrable.
- Passes must be downloaded to your mobile device or printed - parks staff will not have a copy or record of your permit.
As is usually the case with these types of programs, it leaves people with a lot of questions. Hopefully the following can help:
- If you arrive without a permit, internet connectivity and the limit on permits may prevent you from accessing the park. This is especially true on sunny days or weekends. Sometimes it’s hard to plan ahead, but booking one before you head out to your car is probably a good idea.
- A lot of activities in the park, like hiking or snowshoeing beyond Brockton Point, will likely require more than 5 hours (especially if you are taking pictures or packed a lunch.) If you think this might be the case, or you are going to be arriving late in the morning, make sure to book both a morning and afternoon pass.
- If you are backcountry camping, you will need to book either 1, 2 or 3, or 4 permits (yeah!) Depending on your departure you may need an afternoon (or morning and afternoon) permit. You will also need a permit for the following morning (or morning and afternoon.) It’s a lot of permits, but it ensures your car will be there when you get back!
- This is just a parking permit, but as of now there is no public transit option to reach the mountain. However, Mount Seymour Resort does operate a shuttle bus from Rupert Skytrain Station or Parkgate Community Centre (near the bottom gate of the highway.) It costs $15 from Rupert Skytrain and $10 from Parkgate. Schedule and information can be found here. So if you can’t get a permit, this is an option.
So, while this is a contentious issue in the South Coast outdoor community, like it or hate it, it’s what we have for the winter. And while it’s a “pilot” program, I would expect to see more of these programs in the future (like at Cypress perhaps), not less. However, with a bit of foresight and planning, and a whole lot of permits taking up space in your phone storage, navigating this could be relatively painless. In fact, in some circumstances it could lead to a smoother, easier experience. The long, long lineups of cars on weekend mornings are always miserable. If this program can alleviate a bit of that, it could even be a good thing!
And as always…
Be sure to make and leave a trip plan with someone. A great resource for this can be found at Adventure Smart.
If you are heading into avalanche terrain, know the forecast, bring your beacon, probe, and shovel, and know how to use them! If you don’t, Canada West Mountain School runs great two-day Avalanche Skills Training Courses on Mount Seymour. It can save your life.
If you’re heading into the backcountry, make sure you always pack the ten essentials!