B.C. Parks should consider placing a smoking ban on the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park before it goes up in smoke, warns a hiker.
This month, Vancouver resident Carolyn Laporte was shocked to find people lighting cigarettes while visiting the 517-hectare park. Recent hot weather has left the forest floor dry, she wrote in an email to The Chief. Smokers could potentially spark a blaze in the park, Laporte added.
Unlike some municipal parks, including common areas in the District of Squamish, there is no ban on smoking in provincial parks.
“I guess the B.C. government is waiting for a giant forest fire in Squamish caused from a careless smoker,” Laporte wrote, noting that the province should follow Grouse Mountain’s lead.
The privately owned North Shore tourist destination banned smoking on its land in 2009, the mountain’s spokesperson Sarah Lusk said.
“It makes things a lot more clean,” she said, noting that the ban also reduces the chance of a forest fire.
B.C. Parks does post “no smoking” signs in parks when the forest fire hazard rating is high, said Robert Austad, executive director of regional operations at B.C. Parks. A few years ago, upon the request of residents and backed by the high risk of forest fires, B.C. Parks officials put up temporary signs in Okanagan grass lands, he noted.
“Being in the coastal area, the same concerns and condition don’t apply [to Stawamus Chief Provincial Park],” Austad said.
B.C. Parks promotes education on forest fire prevention, as does the Fish and Wildlife Branch, he added.
“The statistics usually show that most of wildfires start from lightning,” Austad said. “Not to say that [fires started by smoking] doesn’t occur.”
B.C. Parks is not considering a smoking ban in provincial parks, he said. However, the province is tracking changes in local government policies regarding smoking.
“Right now, there are so many things that are a priority,” Austad said. “But it doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future.”
B.C. Parks is currently focusing on rebuilding infrastructure and working with First Nations communities throughout the province.