This popular B.C. lake will soon have a parking reservation system to reduce traffic congestion

Buntzen Lake is seen in this undated image. (Shutterstock)

A Lower Mainland lake that usually sees crowds of people in the summer will soon have a parking reservation system to reduce traffic in the area.

BC Hydro, which maintains the popular Buntzen Lake in Port Moody, announced Tuesday it's testing out a reservation pilot program for drivers wanting to park near the lake.

The system launches on June 27 and free reservations can be made the day before a visit. Drivers will have the option of booking a morning or afternoon timeslot and all-day passes won't be offered. Those using transit or accessing the park on foot don't require a pass.

"Buntzen Lake is an incredible place to visit throughout the year, but we know it’s especially busy during the summer months," said Rick Glumac, MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam, in a news release.

"My hope is that the new online reservation system being piloted by BC Hydro will help reduce frustration around parking so that families and visitors can fully enjoy the incredible outdoor experience that Buntzen Lake offers."

BC Hydro said more than 700,000 people visit the hiking trails and swimming areas at Buntzen Lake annually. Last July, nearly 116,000 people used a car to access the park.

"BC Hydro’s new registration program for Buntzen Lake is a game changer for our community as we believe this will help to alleviate the excessive traffic back-ups we’ve experienced in our community the last few years," says John McEwen, mayor of Anmore.

"We appreciate the work BC Hydro has done to address our concerns so that we can all enjoy the amazing outdoor recreation area at Buntzen while also mitigating the significant safety concerns we’ve been experiencing due to blocked roads and property access."

Other agencies have used reservation systems to curb crowds at popular outdoor areas in recent years. In 2020, with B.C. residents unable to travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local trails and parks became especially busy, prompting the province to require passes at Cypress, Mount Seymour, Garibaldi, Golden Ears, Stawamus Chief and Mount Robson parks. 

Even this past winter, passes were required to access backcountry areas of Mount Seymour Provincial Park. 

The free passes for Buntzen Lake will be registered to a licence plate and won't be transferrable. The pilot project will run through Sept. 5.