Parking at Buntzen Lake? Get there really early

Posted by Dag Sharman

Planning to visit Buntzen Lake on a nice summer day? If you're driving, get there early. That's the best advice we can give.

You see, Buntzen is incredibly popular – the most popular BC Hydro recreation area of all. And this summer, Buntzen is more popular than ever. The busiest single day so far was July 28 when approximately 9,000 people visited Buntzen.

The thing is, on those busy days, our parking lot fills up early, and once the lot is full, sometimes as early as 10 a.m., it is closed for the day. We open the gates again only when we believe the lot will not fill up a second time.

Why we need a parking policy

Some people don't like our parking policy, so we thought we should explain that we simply don't have a choice – it's a matter of public safety.

We are often asked, why we don't leave the gate open and let people sort it out themselves? Or why don't we let a car in each time a car leaves, or 10 in when 10 leave?

We've tried all of those things, but they don't work. There's only one road in to Buntzen, so it's also the emergency access road. What happens is that people wait for a parking spot to open, then others do the same, and soon there is a long line of cars on the road in to Buntzen. That is a potentially serious problem – if there were an emergency on the lake or on the trails, it could be a matter of life or death.

So for public safety reasons, and in cooperation with the RCMP, we cannot allow cars to wait – they block emergency access, so we have no choice, we have to have a parking policy that ensures cars do not hinder emergency access.

And we can't allow drop-offs and pick-ups inside the gate either, because that too causes line-ups along the only emergency access to the park – we can't compromise on public safety.

Get there early, or you face a long walk

If you are driving to Buntzen, the earlier you get there the better.

Some people do choose to park outside the recreation area, but they face a very long walk to the beach. As the sign at the entrance gate says, it's 2.3 kilometres to the beach from the gate.

That's a very long walk for a young family or those carrying a picnic or chairs, especially on a hot day The good thing is that the walk is flat – no hills to climb – along a gravel trail. You can also take bus C26 right into the park, but be warned this small bus runs only once an hour, and only on weekends and holidays.