Hundreds, if not thousands, flock to the tiny Village of Deep Cove each day in the summer to enjoy the area’s picture-postcard beauty.
The crowds in recent years have increased so much that officials had to introduce new parking rules and a limit on how many people can use the local trail.
But some businesses and locals believe more measures are needed to handle the influx of visitors.
“The locals, for lack of a better word, have resigned to the fact that they have no ownership of the cove for six to seven months of the year,” said Arash Memarzadah, who runs the family-operated Pomegranate Grillhouse and Café.
Memarzadah said many of his regular customers avoid the village in the summer because of parking and overcrowding issues.
He said the experience isn’t always a positive one for visitors, either.
“You spend 20 minutes trying to get down into the cove. You spend another 20 minutes trying to find parking. You get out, it’s way too busy. There’s no corner store, there’s no tourism centre, you go down to the restaurants and everyone has wait times.”
The District of North Vancouver has been trying to combat the overcrowding on its popular hiking trails.
For the second year in a row, it introduced a restriction on the number of hikers for Quarry Rock.
It also implemented new parking rules, including adding more permit parking spots and overflow parking lots; limiting how long people can stay in some lots; and increasing enforcement.
District Mayor Mike Little said the issue is not unique to Deep Cove.
“It’s a growing problem. It’s a growing concern. It’s something that we’re going to have to manage traffic in more than just Deep Cove — in several sites across the District of North Vancouver,” he said.
But Memarzadah said parking is just one of the issues and businesses are finding themselves having to deal with other tasks.
“We just have people walking in needing an ATM, needing cigarettes, needing washrooms, needing to know which direction is Quarry Rock,” he said. “We didn’t sign up for that. It’s not Pomegranate Café and Public Washroom.”
Little said none of the recreation destinations on the North Shore have publicly funded information centres, including Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge.
He said many of the visitors are from other parts of the Greater Vancouver Area and a long-term solution would require collaboration from the region and the province.
“We’re seen as the backyard playground for much of the Lower Mainland. It’s something that’s going to take a regional response,” he said.
Memarzadah said he would like to see a big-picture solution that changes the dynamic of the village.
“It’s not that we don’t want people coming down to the cove. We have to decide, what do we want to be? The infrastructure was not built to handle this many people,” he said.