CANMORE – RCMP and Canmore bylaw officers are cracking down on parking and other infractions associated with a dramatic increase in visitation at Quarry Lake this summer.
The Town of Canmore is making several changes at the popular swimming hole to address parking issues and excessive garbage that have come with increasing visitor use.
Permanent no-parking signs have been installed on Highway 742, also known as the Smith Dorrien Trail, reinforcing it is illegal to park there.
Municipal officials say parking is only available at Quarry Lake parking lot, and not in adjacent residential neighbourhoods.
“I’ve lived here a long time and anecdotally it seems busier at Quarry Lake than it has ever been,” said Greg Burt, the Town of Canmore’s manager of protective services.
“If the parking lot is full, that means Quarry Lake is at capacity.”
There are now increased patrols from Canmore Bylaw peace officers and RCMP to issue tickets for parking offences and other infractions at the popular lake and along the highway.
Burt said four tickets were issued last weekend by peace officers.
“We found that the signage on Highway 742 is quite effective, in combination with enhanced patrols,” he said.
Burt said there will also be extra shifts in the bylaw services department for the upcoming August long weekend.
“We will have additional peace officers working this weekend to patrol Highway 742, the parking lot, in and around the lake and into the Peaks of Grassi, just to ensure people are complying with local bylaws and provincial statutes,” he said.
Many residents of Peaks of Grassi have made complaints to the Town of Canmore about an increasing number of people parking in the neighbourhood to access Quarry Lake. Parking in the residential area is at a premium at the best of times.
Burt said one of the complicating factors is that Google Maps directs people to Quarry Lake through the Peaks of Grassi residential area.
“If you Google Quarry Lake – I just did it from a Calgary address – it’s directing you to the Peaks of Grassi to park there and then walk it, whereas if you Google Quarry Lake lot or Quarry Lake Park, it will direct you to the parking lot,” he said.
“That’s one of the challenges, so the Town of Canmore has sent a request through to Google to update the map. Residents can do that as well, and I understand a few residents have already submitted requests.”
Tourism Canmore Kananaskis interim CEO Rachel Ludwig said the destination marketing organizatin is approved with Google's destination partnership program.
"With that we have a direct contact at Google and can expedite issues within our destination," Ludwig wrote in an email. "Therefore, we have reached out and the maps issue has been resolved."
To deal with vehicle congestion specifically at Quarry Lake, RV parking will not be allowed in the lot by early August.
In addition, other short-term improvements will be made to the parking lot to prevent cars from getting blocked in and to keep driving lanes clear.
Burt said the work is also being done to facilitate emergency access.
“If we need to get an ambulance or fire truck or boat in there, we need to ensure that we have clear and unobstructed access to the lake,” he said.
Given the record numbers of people at the lake, two porta-potty toilets have been added at the South Beach.
With increased garbage, including garbage and food dumped right beside bear proof-bins, garbage containers on the north beach have been consolidated into one location. In addition, the Town has scheduled an additional evening garbage pick up.
The municipality encourages people to pack their garbage out if bins are full, so as not to attract wildlife such as bears.
“Living in Canmore and being right next to a wildlife habitat patch, we’ve been working for years on reducing human-wildlife conflicts,” Burt said.
“Garbage can be a significant animal attractant, which poses some serious safety concerns for both wildlife and humans in the area.”
The Town of Canmore continues to receive complaints from concerned members of the public about violations of public health orders for physical distancing at Quarry Lake given how busy it is there.
Officials say it is essential that all residents and visitors follow the public health order mandating everyone keep at least two metres from every other person who is not a member of the same household or cohort.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation at Quarry Lake,” Burt said.