Sometime over the winter, the lightbulb illuminating the Porteau Cove parking lot burned out. When it was replaced with a common streetlight halogen bulb, amateur photographer Jim Slater began writing letters to park officials to illuminate his concern about the light pollution it would cause.
In his letter, Slater called the light "overkill" and said Porteau Cove is "a great place to reconnect with the natural world, not just around us, but above us."
Porteau Cove is popular in part for its lack of light pollution: Precisely because of its clear views of the night sky, and proximity to Squamish and the Lower Mainland, it is often frequented by photographers and stargazers. It tops lists of local spots to view dark skies — despite the park's closing at 11 p.m. every night.
The park gates do not close, but BC Parks rules say no activity is supposed to take place after 11 p.m.
Although BC Parks looked into putting a dampener on the light to mitigate light pollution concerns after Slater's letter, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy told The Chief on Feb. 12 that this is not feasible. The light, located in the day-use parking lot, is used as a safety and security measure and to prevent "inappropriate use."
Slater's letter, dated Jan. 17, also raised a concern for marine life that may be affected and for birds that roost nearby.
BC Parks recommends visiting registered dark sky areas for stargazing and night photography. Permits may be required to turn off the lights. Other parks in Squamish are also recommended, although Porteau Cove is among the most accessible as it doesn't require a hike an overnight stay to access.