The province is funnelling $23 million into B.C.’s parks over the next five years.
The funds will help create 1,900 new campsites, a new $5-million parks foundation and a yet unspecified number of new rangers in parks across the province.
More than 800 campsites will be built in provincial parks, with more than 1,000 others in recreation sites, on top of 10,700 existing campsites, in areas of highest demand.
Monday’s announcement has followed a chorus of criticism about campsites being snapped up the second bookings opened and of scalpers reselling them for profit. Forty-six such incidents were reported to B.C. Parks last year.
Earlier in November, the province announced it would eliminate opening day reservations to avoid delays and crashes in the online Discover Camping booking system. Campers will now be able to book their campsite four months ahead of their desired camp date.
Ric Careless, chair of Campaign for B.C. Parks, said the money would go a long way into rejuvenating the province’s 13.5-million hectares of parkland – the third largest system in North America and the sixth largest in the world.
“Especially in a time of climate change B.C.’s parks are living arks. They’re living sanctuaries for ancient forests and wildlife and endangered species,” said Careless. “They’re the ultimate adventure playground where every year we see 20 million people coming to our parks.”
B.C.’s parks generate more than $400 million to the GDP.
“For every dollar that this government invests, $8 comes back to the province,” said Careless.
The new funding will be concentrated in the province’s most in-demand parks – in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Kootenays and the Okanagan, said Clark, but added that it would make its way to all parts of B.C.