Noisy campers mar long weekend
“It wasn’t the craziest long weekend I’ve ever seen, but it was certainly worse than I thought it would be,” said Chief Warden for Jasper National Park Jim Mamalis.
He said there were between 10 and 12 evictions from campsites at the Whistlers, Wapiti and Snaring campgrounds, which is higher than last year’s totals. There were also tickets handed out at the day use sites for open alcoholic beverage violations and some illegal fishing. As well, there were some off-roaders caught driving in places where they really shouldn’t be, said Mamalis. They were all punished accordingly, he said.
Overall though, Mamalis said the main hassle over the weekend was loud parties going on at the campgrounds, particularly at Whistlers.
“After midnight until 4 a.m. or so, things got a little bit crazy,” he said about Saturday night.
He said he had expected the snow and wet weather on Saturday morning to deter the rabble rousers from coming out to cause trouble. That wasn’t the case, however.
He also said in recent years, things appear to have quieted down over the long weekends.
Now however, things appear to be picking up again.
Mamalis said the problem at Whistlers was the noisiest campers were very mobile. Police would respond to a complaint about a party and shut it down. However, the merry makers would just move over a couple of campsites to another party and keep the noise going. In effect, the wardens were playing whack-a-mole with the drunken campers.
This year, Banff, Kootenay and Yoho National parks issued park-wide bans on alcohol at all campsites for the long weekend. The controversial move appears to have paid off with CTV news reporting that for the entire long weekend, there was not a single noise complaint.
“It’s certainly an effective tool,” said Mamalis about the alcohol ban. He said that if alcohol was banned in Jasper, it would certainly have meant a quieter long weekend.
“It’s always alcohol and drugs; 100 per cent. Every event that we respond to is basically either one or the other,” said Mamalis. “You remove the alcohol and you remove the problem.”
Mamalis also said the wardens hope to track down several people after they received calls about bears being feed from cars on the Icefields Parkway, just south of the Columbia Icefield.
“Incidents like this, they cause bears to lose their fear of people and then there’s the potential for trouble,” said Mamalis.
He said the wardens have received photographs of the bears being fed which show the guilty person’s vehicle and license plates. Charges and fines should hopefully be happening soon, he said.
Cpl. Tony Dolhan of the Jasper RCMP said that overall, in the townsite of Jasper, it was no different than long weekends in recent years. Long weekends are busier than the typical weekend and the RCMP is a busy place to be working at.
“We’re always out on the long weekends and it’s a steady stream of events that we have to respond to,” he said.
He said there were four minor traffic collisions in the area over the weekend (only one resulted in minor injuries for one woman), one false alarm, several calls about possibly intoxicated drivers, one 24-hour suspension of a driver’s license, one complaint about mischief and one theft of a license plate.
All in all, fairly minor incidents, Cpl. Dolhan said.
Cpl. Dolhan said the local RCMP partook in the National Road Safety Week blitz that was launched across Canada on May 18, and that may have resulted in more speeding tickets and other traffic related infractions.
“We don’t typically get a lot of calls about intoxicated driving in and around Jasper simply because most things are so close together,” said Cpl. Dolhan. He said that most people seem to be willing to make the walk or taxi back to the campsites because they aren’t that far away from the townsite. As well, most people who drink while camping tend to stay at the campground.
He said he had heard that the campsites around Jasper were fairly busy over the weekend and the police did respond to some events out there. They did a number of patrols to show force. However, overall, the wardens handled most incidents.