RV park owner takes aim at Walmart’s overnight parking

A Whitehorse business owner is upset about tourists parking their recreational vehicles for extended periods of time in the parking lot at Walmart.

A Whitehorse business owner is upset about tourists parking their recreational vehicles for extended periods of time in the parking lot at Walmart.

Jacky Smith, who owns the Caribou RV Park on the Alaska Highway south of Whitehorse, said some of the motor homes parked at Walmart stay for weeks at a time and create messes in the parking lot.

She’s created a Facebook page called “No RV’s at Walmart,” where she’s posted photos of the offending vehicles. One RV has a pool of liquid beneath it that Smith believes is radiator fluid. Another has a generator set up beside it and a pile of dog feces not far away.

Smith said she spoke with a manager at Walmart about the second vehicle, and he told her he would ask the owners to leave. But she said she subsequently returned to the parking lot, and the RV was still there.

“Walmart has to enforce better policies and procedures,” Smith said. “It seems to me people here in Whitehorse are accepting of this, or they’re turning a blind eye because Walmart is such a huge corporation that they don’t want to push the buttons with Walmart at all.”

When the News paid a visit to the Walmart parking lot this week, there was no sign of the mess Smith described. She said the manager told her Walmart staff clean the area every morning.

Still, she said RVs should only be allowed to park at Walmart for one night, and should not be allowed to run generators.

A sign in Walmart’s parking lot designates an area in the southeast corner that is available for overnight parking.

“Walmart welcomes you to the Yukon and is happy to have you stay [sic] overnight in our lot,” it reads.

Walmart’s corporate website also includes a brief summary of the company’s policy on RV parking.

“While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store parking lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws.”

Dave Hunt, store manager of the Whitehorse Walmart, declined to comment on the motor homes and trailers parked at his store, but said he doesn’t have “anything documented anywhere” about how long RVs are allowed to stay.

But Smith said allowing tourists to camp indefinitely at Walmart has an impact on the local economy.

“They choose to spend their time and their money at Walmart and keep going up to Alaska,” she said. “Whether you are a shop in the centre, whether you are in Main Street, whether you are out here… it has an effect on our economy and us as people.”

Smith said her RV campground is doing well, but in general, business at Whitehorse RV parks “could be so much better.”

“We can definitely go on with Walmart doing what they’re doing,” she said. “But hell, we could put in more sites here if Walmart would get rid of the people off that site.”

The Caribou RV Park currently charges $42 a night for RV camping. Wilfried Lachmann, who parked his camper van in the Walmart parking lot when he arrived in Whitehorse on Wednesday, said it’s not reasonable to expect tourists to pay for campground accommodations every night.

“I understand the business people, but it’s difficult,” he said. “All the motor home owners, they are not rich people.”

He said his camper van is 17 years old, and has racked up 330,000 kilometres over the years. He shipped the van to Halifax from Germany, and he and his wife have been travelling across Canada since May 12, making their way to Alaska. He said they stay in campgrounds on some nights, but not all the time.

“In many cities, the best address is Walmart,” he said. “It’s free to park. You can buy everything, you have everything. If you pay every night 20 to 30 dollars for a campground, it’s a lot of money in the month.”

But Smith had strong words for those who say they can’t afford to stay in campgrounds.

“Don’t go on the road then. Stay at home and have a picnic in the park. If you’re going to go on the road, expect you’re going to pay for services throughout the towns and help every community along your road to Alaska.”

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dawson the dog sits next to the Chariot Patrick Jackson has loaded and rigged up to walk the Dempster Highway from where it begins, off the North Klondike Highway, to the Arctic Circle. (Submitted)
Walking the Dempster

Patrick Jackson gets set for 405-kilometre journey

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read