Camping changes a good start to boosting accessibility: Weaver

Enforcement critical for next year’s provincial parks

Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver

MLA Andrew Weaver is cautiously pleased with recent changes to camping reservation system in provincial parks.

Changes to the BC Parks Discover Camping Reservation Service for the 2017 season aim to improve fair access for everyone looking to book a campsite provincial parks.

“They listened and I’m pleased that they listened,” the Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA said. “I don’t mind giving them credit for doing the right thing.”

For 2017, the ministry nixed the mid-March opening day for reservations and the three-month rolling reservation window will be extended. As of Jan. 2, reservations can be made four months in advance of an individual campground’s first reservable date.

Other changes include new measures to prevent the reselling of reservations, restrictions around altering arrival dates to prevent the practice of ‘overbooking’ where coveted reservations, including long-weekends, are unfairly secured, and implementing a pilot project in select parks to reduce the maximum length of stay to seven days during the peak camping season.

The changes are in response to a record-breaking camping season, where sites were booked far in advance and people felt left out. Others complained that people were snapping up campsites and re-selling reservations for profit. Forty-six such incidents were reported to B.C. Parks last year.

“We want to make sure the campsite reservation service is doing its job as effectively and efficiently as possible. We know British Columbians want a reservation system that is fair, and that they have just as good a chance of securing a campsite as the next person,” Mary Polak, Minister of Environment, said in a statement. “The changes we’re bringing in for 2017 address policies that are prone to abuse by a small number of people and contribute to positive camping experiences in our beautiful B.C. Parks.”

The government says it’s cracking down on reservation scalpers. Under the new regulations, when a campsite is reserved, guests will have to provide one or two permit holder names, and at least one permit holder will have to be on site, with identification, throughout the stay. Weaver was vocal in that as his key concern last May as the camping season amped up.

“It potentially led to like ticket scalping … that now has been closed down,” he said. Now a name is associated with the reservation and you can’t change that name later. “That’s a really important change.”

He’s also pleased with the clampdown on those who book two-weeks in advance, then cancel the first 10 days to score coveted long weekend as well as the staggered openings.

“You can’t have somebody, for example, buy up four or five in a row … a week here, a week there, at four campsites. You can’t do that all at once now because they stagger the opening of them,” Weaver said. “It’s giving British Columbians a slight edge on getting campgrounds and that’s good.”

He’s concerned now over a “lack of enforcement and compliance” when for example, if a park is not notified of a late arrival, a site should become available if it remains empty at 11 a.m. He also maintains the province needs to increase its inventory.

“We need more campgrounds to begin with because there is an increasing need,” he said “Affordability is a critical issue … holidaying close to home and camping is in many cases the only option. It’s becoming more of the norm as opposed to going to a resort.”

More than 185,000 reservations were made last summer, with close to three-quarters coming from B.C. residents. The next highest shares are from Alberta at 14 per cent, the U.S. at 3.6 per cent, the rest of Canada at 2.8 per cent, and all European countries combined are 6.6 per cent of the total.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Victoria immigrant centre’s refugee housing lands in Oak Bay

Partnership project officially announced for World Refugee Day

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

Rebirth of downtown cultural festival coming to Victoria in July

Folktoria aims to pick up where Folkfest left off

Plans rejigged for new Crystal Pool and Wellness Centre

Visitors to open house see plans for fitness facility, main pool with movable floor

Two people taken into custody after TD bank robbery

VicPD say an individual left the building with an undisclosed amount of cash

In reversal, Trump signs executive order to stop family separation

President had been wrongly insisting he had no choice but to separate families apprehended at border

New Jersey forward Taylor Hall wins Hart Trophy as NHL MVP

Vancouver’s Sedin brothers share King Clancy Award for humanitarian efforts

POLL: Do you have a family doctor?

“I don’t have a family doctor,” is an all too familiar phrase… Continue reading

GoFundMe page launched for families of missing Vancouver Island fishermen

Search for three men whose vessel capsized near Tofino on June 15 continues.

50 new fires sparked in B.C. after lightning strikes across province

Similar conditions seen at the beginning of 2017 wildfire season

B.C. woman graduates high school at age 92

Nanaimo’s Joan Deebank the oldest high school graduate ever in B.C., as far as ministry can confirm

B.C. Appeal Court rules lottery winner must be paid back $600,000 loan

Enone Rosas won $4.1 million in a lottery in 2007 and loaned a portion to a friend

B.C. man surprised after used needle falls from sky

A Vernon resident said a syringe fell out of the sky and landed at his feet

Liquor review finds issues with B.C. wholesale monopoly

Report calls for ‘conflict of interest’ in system to be fixed

Most Read