Wednesday April 16, 2014


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Lacking explanation after fine


Dear Editor,

I am a resident of North Vancouver and recently moved to B.C. from Quebec this past August. Last weekend, I visited Garibaldi Park with my mother, who was visiting, and my good friend, who is a resident of Whistler. We set out for a walk to Lake Cheakamus and we brought along my dog.

Being new to the area, and my girlfriend having never hiked in the park before, we were not aware that dogs are prohibited in Garibaldi Park. Arriving at the trailhead, we took in the beautiful view and set on our way — completely missing the small signs indicating dogs were not allowed on the trail.

About three quarters of the way, we were stopped by two Park Rangers who were sitting out of sight behind a tree eating their lunch, startling us with their immediate and harshly-toned questions of “What are you doing?” and ”Do you know where you are?”

They told us dogs were not allowed in the park and that we would have to be evicted. We were surprised by the news as we were unaware of this law, but I realized it was my own fault as a responsible dog owner for not looking out for the signs. As we went to turn around, one of the rangers told me that I would have to provide my personal information for the $115 fine he was about to issue to me. I tried pleading my case as a new resident of B.C., oblivious to the regulations against dogs in the park, but to no avail.

There are a number of reasons why we wanted to share our experience. First of all, we were shocked and appalled by the heavy-handed attitude of one of the Park Rangers, Rob Martino, as he spoke to us using an extremely condescending tone and scare tactics right from the get-go. It is not excusable to treat people with disrespect — particularly by a federal government employee (the female ranger was friendly and professional).

The second concern was the cost of the fine. When we asked why the fine was so significant, he stated that it was so that we would tell our friends. A $30 to $40 fine is enough for us to learn our lesson and spread the word. But instead, a fine this stiff not only ruined our day and enjoyment of our walk in a B.C. forest, but we will certainly be telling our friends across the nation of our terrible experience.  ??

My girlfriend, as a Whistler resident, felt extremely embarrassed by the whole ordeal. She felt that this experience was detrimental to tourism in Whistler and would leave a bad impression on any future visitors of Garibaldi Park who are not aware of the rules.

I should also mention that the Park Rangers were unable to give a coherent and logical explanation for not allowing dogs in the park. They cited “leaving smells, peeing and pooping, and other wild animals” as the reasons behind this regulation. I would like to rebut that when humans enter wild habitats they too take with them their smells, sometimes their urine and excretion, as well as their garbage and vandalism. It seems to me that humans, more than dogs, may pose more of a threat to wild habitats in Garibaldi Park. I realize that this is an issue I will have to take up with B.C. Parks, but it’s too bad that, as a customer service representatives on behalf of B.C. Parks, the rangers weren’t able to offer me the information I needed. ?  

I would also like to say that good dog owners should carry leashes with them and leash their dogs, where necessary, as well as clean up after their dogs in all public places. I abide by these rules and understand them. What I am not clear on is why dogs are not allowed in the park at all.

If B.C. Parks is able to provide a sound and logical explanation as to why I have to pay $115 fine as a first time visitor to Garibaldi Park for walking my dog in the woods, it would be greatly appreciated.

Nikki Johnston

North Vancouver, B.C.




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