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Letter: Squamish urged to rethink camping bylaw in open letter

Vehicle dwellers in Squamish left without options, according to bylaw critique by workers at Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.
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What do you think can be done to help accommodate the vehicle residents in Squamish? Letter us know with a letter to the editor: editor@squamishchief.com.

Editor’s note: This is an open letter to the District of Squamish council, which was forwarded to The Squamish Chief for publication.

Re:  Camping Bylaw is justified by false claims; District needs to provide a real solution for vehicle dwellers.

We work at the Stawamus Chief for a BC Parks’ contractor. Part of our job involves maintaining the Stawamus Chief campground and, at times, enforcing BC Parks regulations. Recently after an inspection, we were required to evict several campers who had stayed longer than the 14-day yearly limit. Some of the people we evicted were not travellers on vacation, but Squamish residents who live in their vehicles.

So the question is: where can these people go now? Since the camping bylaw was passed in 2019, it is illegal to stay in town, and campgrounds are all full or limit the length of time people can stay. To make matters worse, the District has not reopened the municipal campground on Loggers Lane. And just recently, Walmart has shut down camping, further restricting people’s options.

Our experience working at the Stawamus Chief contradicts one of the District’s main justifications for the bylaw. The District website states, ‘Squamish has several privately-owned campgrounds as well as provincial- and municipal-operated campgrounds. Many have available sites on a given night, while campers are camping in undesignated areas.’

This is false, and obviously so to anyone who has spent any time in Squamish during the summer in recent years. It is even more obvious to us who actually work in a Squamish provincial park. Telling vehicle residents to go stay in a campground is a refusal to deal with this issue in good faith.

The District needs to provide real options for vehicle-dweller residents. The council cannot continue to pass the buck and send people to the parks.

We are seeing firsthand that this is not a solution.

Sarah Bergland

Sam Bullard-Sisken

Sawyer Karson

Connor Runge

John Shaw

 

**Please note that this letter was modified after it was first posted to add John Shaw as a letter writer. His name was inadvertently cut off when it was first published. We apologize to John for this oversight. 

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