We Heard You! Rest Area Improvements on the Way in BC

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Our 170 BC Rest Areas are the perfect spot to refresh and recharge before heading out on the highway, and they are about to get a whole lot better.

Since the beginning of 2016, we’ve been working closely with the BC Trucking Association on the BC Highway Rest Area Survey and report. We wanted to get the voice of the trucking industry – what they like and what they don’t like – about rest areas in the province. Their input is important to improving rest areas for everyone.

In total, 835 people took part in the survey. Of those, 72% were long-haul drivers, 19% were short haul drivers, and 9% were local delivery drivers.

Truckers Told Us What They Really, Really Want

Truck drivers were loud and clear about the improvements they want us to make, to create safer, cleaner and more convenient rest areas. These include:

  • Upgrading restrooms to flush toilets, creating more truck parking and installing improved lighting.
  • Adding new rest areas.
  • Offering commercial services at rest areas, like service stations, shower facilities, convenience stores, restaurants/diners, fast food restaurants and other amenities.

trucks & rec travellersHow We’re Responding to Truckers’ Needs

Rest areas are essential, particularly to long haul truckers who have mandatory hours of rest, to stay safe on our roads. These improvements are coming over the next three years, as part of our new Provincial Trucking Strategy in B.C. on the Move:

  • Enhancing existing rest areas by upgrading washrooms to flush toilets, improving lighting, adding more picnic tables, and increasing accessibility and capacity.
  • Building a new Class A rest area at the Loon Lake Interchange on Highway 97C (Okanagan Connector) between Merritt and Kelowna. This rest area will have heated restrooms with running water and flush toilets, separated parking areas for buses, commercial trucks and recreational vehicles, and lots of parking for commercial trucks.
  • Looking into commercial services at rest areas, by issuing a request for information on BC Bid, to gauge industry interest in providing goods and services at BC rest areas.
  • We will be offering free WIFI at select rest areas across the province. In total, 25 rest areas throughout the province will have Wi-Fi installed. The following rest areas will have Wi-Fi installed by the spring of 2017, with the additional 20 sites being delivered in the coming years:
    • Britton Creek  Highway 5 – 67 kilometres south of Merritt
    • Mt Terry Fox   Highway 16 – 6km east of Tete Jaune
    • Galena Bay      Highway 23 – 49km north of Nakusp
    • Glacier View   Highway 16 – 7km north of Smithers
    • Taylor River    Highway 4 – 37km west of Port Alberni

BC’s mountains, rivers, oceans and deserts make road trips here a wonderful thing. The province’s awesome size also means highway travellers of all kinds need places to take a break, to help them stay alert on their journey.

Do you have a question about BC Rest Areas that we haven’t answered here, or any other transportation related question? Let us know in the comments below.

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26 Responses to We Heard You! Rest Area Improvements on the Way in BC

  1. Sam Vekemans on February 2, 2017 at 8:46 am

    What about Self-supported Cyclists? What is the logic behind prohibiting people from sleeping over night in a tent at a rest area?

    It seems to be unethical to prohibit overnight sleeping for anyone.

    • tranbceditor on February 2, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Sam,

      We have done some digging and have found that not all rest areas have “no camping” signs posted. Often they are posted when it’s found that longer-term camping is becoming a problem at a particular rest area. Rest areas can be dark, secluded and remote which lead to safety concerns regarding those camp overnight. Overall, in terms of overnight stays, rest areas were originally envisioned for motorists who are too tired to continue driving and need to pull over and rest for a few hours, but we don’t believe that those who are homeless are turned away. Alternatively, BC Parks campgrounds cover the province and are accessible day and night to travellers seeking inexpensive camping. Hope that this helps!

  2. Ken on December 13, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    These rest areas are a bonus to have, just last summer I was on a trip from the coast to Calgary and back in one shot….guess age is catching up with my as on the return trip I was quite sleepy by the time I got to the Salmon Arm area. Found a nice rest stop near town with ample parking and I stopped and managed to catch 6 hours of sleep. There wasn’t a lot of people there and I parked out of the way. Had a washroom handy for when I woke up, continued the trip from there rested which is important for driving in the terrain we have here.

    These things are not only great for truckers but the average traveling public like me. What the ministry needs to do is make sure they are well kept and accessible. The one outside of Salmon Arm was a nice one compared to others I’ve stopped at, clean quiet and allowed for some serious zzzzzs. Just wish my home province had these!

    • tranbceditor on December 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

      Thanks for the feedback Ken!

      • Ken on December 14, 2016 at 7:22 pm

        Now if we could get a rather large national chain of coffee/donut shops to open locations at some rest areas…that would be heaven! 🙂

  3. Susan McLoughlin on November 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    As a woman travelling alone I rarely stop at rest areas. They are often out of the way, dark and unsupervised. Having services would definitely reduce the scary isolation of so many of them.

    • tranbceditor on November 21, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks for your comment. We have shared it forward to the program manager.

  4. Hardy Rosenke on October 29, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    While the initial roll out areas for WiFi coverage are nice, some consideration should be given to Zopkios on Hwy5 southbound. That nice mandatory brake check/rest area before the Smasher has somewhat LIMITED cellular coverage, so some decent WiFi and/or a micro-repeater here would benefit not only the general public but specifically commercial truckers.

    • tranbceditor on October 31, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      Hi Hardy,

      Thanks for your feedback. We have shared it forward directly with the project manager.

    • tranbceditor on November 1, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Hello again Hardy,

      We shared your comment forward with the project manager and they confirmed that Zopkios is under consideration for free WIFI, however nothing has been confirmed at this point. Stay tuned!

      • Hardy Rosenke on November 6, 2016 at 5:08 pm

        Thanks, good to know. I would think that with the ongoing Telus “major corridor cellular upgrade” ongoing and this new rest area/WiFi upgrade, that some improvement will result, hopefully sooner rather than later.

      • Hardy Rosenke on November 6, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        And, FWIW, some “boots on the ground” experimentation of weak coverage would reveal good likely areas for timely upgrades. Not terribly hard to look at signal strength bars or try to make an outgoing call.

    • Rampage_Rick on November 7, 2016 at 1:42 am

      There is a 200-foot Telus cell tower right at the Zopkos brake check, it’s been operational since summer 2014. This tower supports Telus/Koodoo/Bell/Virgin (calls to 911 will go through for Rogers customers) The signal from that tower cuts out around Box Canyon. Telus has applied to build a tower near Portia which should cover the dead zone between Shylock and Box Canyon, but I haven’t seen any timeline for construction.

      • Hardy Rosenke on November 16, 2016 at 4:50 am

        Thanks for the info, Rick. I’ve been thru there since that date, and perhaps it’s just been bad timing on my part to have weakish service. If I’m thru in daylight/good vis, I’ll spot around and investigate this some more! 😀

  5. Dave on October 21, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    For the tourism is overnite stays allowed at rest areas in BC.

    • tranbceditor on October 24, 2016 at 10:09 am

      Hi again Dave,

      You are free to use any BC Rest Area to catch zzzz’s while you are travelling, but we try to discourage motorists from using rest areas for more than four hours at a time. Rest areas can be dark, secluded and remote which lead to safety concerns regarding those camping overnight. BC Parks have many campsites available to travellers day or night and we encourage you to camp overnight there. Hope this helps.

      • Sam Vekemans on February 2, 2017 at 8:48 am

        Perhaps having signs indicating distance to the nearest Campground at the Rest Areas would be appropriate. It’s hard to ‘go check a website’ when your on the road, and no wifi is available. So signs showing where the nearest campsite (including privately owned) is.

  6. Anonymous on October 17, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Has more truck parking spaces been made available or just improvement to existing spaces/rest areas?

    • tranbceditor on October 17, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      Hi there,

      Just to clarify – do you mean at one specific rest area or at rest areas across the province?

      • Anonymous on October 18, 2016 at 8:28 am

        Rest areas across the province. In other words, will there be more spaces available for truckers driving through the province or just better facilities for existing spaces?

        • tranbceditor on October 18, 2016 at 10:37 am

          Hi Tyson,

          Thanks for the clarification. BC on The Move committed $9M to be spent on rest areas between 2015/16 and 2017/18 (inclusive). This money is used to both rehabilitate and build new rest areas.

          One example of new spaces being created is the new rest area along highway 97C (https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016TRAN0269-001721). An example of improvements that have been made is the installation illumination at Fish Trap rest area along H5 just north of Kamloops.

          Hope that this helps! If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to let us know.

  7. Kim on October 14, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Bradner rest area has no flushing toilets in female washroom and getting worse with every vehicle that stops.

    • tranbceditor on October 14, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for letting us know. We will share this forward for follow up. You can also let the maintenance contractor know directly here:

      Emil Anderson Maintenance Company

  8. Gundula Brigl on October 13, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    What about those of us who are not involved in the trucking industry? Has the tourism sector been consulted? Especially for overseas visitors traveling by RVs, a more rustic, non-commercial experience is desired by many. This means more rest areas, on lower volume highways, with minimal services (pit toilets and picnic table), in scenic locations. BC has much to offer!

    For commuters in the Interior of BC, the most important factor is frequency of rest areas, especially in difficult travelling conditions (winter storm), just to give a peaceful rest from driving. A move to keeping rest areas that do not need winterizing open longer in the season is also beneficial.

    • tranbceditor on October 13, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      Hello Gundula,

      Thanks for your comment and your kind words about our beautiful province. We have shared your comments forward with the Rest Area program manager.

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