Inaccessible trail heads, lack of signage, poorly maintained trails and a broken outhouse in Garibaldi Provincial Park have sparked the ire of a handful of Whistler residents who feel the province is neglecting an important Sea to Sky resource.
Jayson Faulkner, owner of Escape Route outdoor gear and clothing store, says he is at a loss when customers ask him for hiking recommendations because so many trails that used to be easy to access have all but fallen off the map, unless a hiker pays to take the lifts up Whistler Blackcomb. He is particularly concerned about the condition of the routes leading to Singing Pass and the broken down outhouse at Russet Lake.
"I've lived in Whistler all my life and always thought there were so many options but when you actually get down to recommending to someone who is visiting where to go for a (free) hike if they want to get up into the alpine, you have incredibly limited options because many of these hikes don't have signs, no trailheads, the trails have been neglected, or the logging road needed to get to the trail has been decommissioned or are impossible to drive because of huge water bars," he said.
"What a world-class experience for someone coming from Europe to hike back there and walk around a bunch of toilet paper and human waste around the lake. It's gross and it's embarrassing and we should be ashamed by something like that."
Faulkner maintains that the Ministry of the Environment allocates too few resources to maintain the 194,650 hectare provincial park and that the three rangers employed are stretched too thin to properly take care of the paths and facilities, including monitoring campfires during summer fire bans.
Garibaldi Park's rangers and Environment Minister Barry Penner were unavailable for comment at press time, but a spokesperson from the Ministry of Environment said that Garibaldi's operating budget was increased from $38,300 to $61,900 this year and that the increase will cover the repairs needed at the Russet Lake outhouse.
"Trail maintenance is always ongoing, especially in relation to potential public safety issues. Major trail upgrades require planning, capital and resource availability. There was trail work done in Singing Pass within Garibaldi Provincial Park this year as there was a lot of blow down from last year's storms. The three park rangers assigned to Garibaldi Provincial Park have spent a great deal of time returning the area to a passable state and it is a work in progress."
The ministry currently has no plans to conduct any major trail upgrades at Garibaldi for the rest of the year and will only consider potential upgrades during upcoming planning meetings. Hikers are encouraged to use alternative access points for trails previously accessed from logging roads.