Florencia Bay offers its visitors stunning sightlines and access to it is free this year to anyone who picks up a Discovery Pass at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Florencia Bay offers its visitors stunning sightlines and access to it is free this year to anyone who picks up a Discovery Pass at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

WATCH: Discovery Passes open free access to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve between Ucluelet and Tofino

“Dogs off-leash can disturb migratory shorebirds, impact the enjoyment of other visitors, and attract wolves."

With free admission attached to Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations, the already-popular Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is getting ready to welcome a record number of visitors this year.

The Park Reserve’s daily fees, which range from $2.90 per student, $7.80 per adult and $19.60 per family, will be waived all year and anyone looking to enjoy the Park’s paradise can leave their wallets at home and pick up a Discovery Pass for free either online—parkscanada.gc.ca—or at the Park.

“These passes can also be obtained in person at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Kwisitis Visitor Centre and nearby visitor information centres,” said the Park’s Superintendent Karen Haugen

“If Parks Canada staff encounter visitors without a Discovery Pass, we would be pleased to provide one and welcome them to the park reserve. In places like Wickaninnish Beach, it may also be convenient for visitors to stop by the Kwisitis Visitor Centre for a pass.”

She said the Park is getting prepared for the expected increase in visitation and hopes to encourage visitors to check out the Park’s scenery during non-peak hours to help ease parking congestion.

“Parks Canada wants to ensure the best possible visitor experience for people coming to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve…During the summer months, we plan to have staff and Commissionaires at key locations in the park reserve during peak times to help direct visitors to parking lots with available space,” she said.

“While we are welcoming visitors all day long, for those leery of searching for a parking space, we are helping plan experiences at quieter times during the day. In addition to information coming to our website and social media channels, front-line staff will be sharing tips about catching a West Coast sunset or the rise of morning mist over Long Beach when visitation is lower.”

Along with spacing out visitation throughout the day, Haugen said the Park is also keenly aware that an increase in visitors means an increase in four-legged companions.

“Dogs off-leash can disturb migratory shorebirds, impact the enjoyment of other visitors, and attract wolves,” Haugen said.

“We’ve found that migratory birds are disturbed by off-leash dogs throughout the day. This poses a significant risk to their survival as the birds attempt to rest and build their energy reserves during a stopover at the park reserve and neighbouring beaches.”

A survey conducted by the park in 2014 suggested roughly 70,000 dogs visit the Park each summer and while those dogs, by law, must be leashed at all times, Haugen acknowledged that “ensuring compliance with this rule has been an ongoing challenge.”

She said the Park is committed to helping visitors understand that dogs must be leashed, and will continue a wildlife ambassador program launched on a trial basis last summer that pairs student employees with the resource conservation team to bolster the Park’s messaging to visitors.

“We are focusing on increased communications, compliance and enforcement to ensure wildlife in the park are not negatively impacted by visitor behaviour, and need the support of all our visitors and residents to ensure that wildlife continue to thrive in the Park Reserve,” she said.

“This year, the wildlife ambassador program will be further expanded and the hiring process to fill these positions is underway. This stronger Parks Canada team will be roving through the Long Beach Unit, greeting visitors and sharing information about the importance of keeping dogs on-leash, while also sharing wildlife and water safety tips.”

She added locals have a role to play in protecting the area’s migratory shorebird populations by providing positive examples to tourists.

“We also found that visitors with dogs are much more likely to let their dogs off leash if another visitor has already set that example,” she said. “For that reason, we ask that local residents help protect our shorebirds and set a good example by complying with the dogs on leash requirement in the Park Reserve.”