MLA report: Weaver laments campground brokerage

Andrew Weaver is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and the leader of the B.C. Green Party

Much like scalpers buying concert tickets in bulk to resell them at twice the price, some individuals and travel companies are taking advantage of the Discover Camping reservation system to book campsites in provincial parks and resell them at a premium to tourists. To get ahead of British Columbians planning to reserve a campsite for their family vacation, these individuals and companies start claiming spots as soon as the bookings become available. Yet unlike the situation where scalpers resell concert or hockey tickets, the people of British Columbia already own our provincial parks.

It’s time for the government to step in and correct the situation.

Unfortunately, the Provincial Government has welcomed the campground middlemen and suggests that they are preforming a valuable tourism service. The acceptance of a practice that allows private for-profit companies to compete with B.C. families for public campsites suggests that the government has lost sight of the public purpose of our parks and campgrounds. Our provincial campsites are not products to be sold, rather they belong to the people of B.C.

Government agencies have been entrusted by the public to manage our parks as a collective good, so that they can be preserved and maintained into the future. Instead they are managing them as if they were a nothing more than a commodity.

To reference Thomas More, the dominant function of public lands is to contribute to the greater public good with the government acting as a managing mechanism to ensure that purpose is being served, not to push their own agenda. The ultimate question needs to be “how well is the public function being served?” not “how well is the agency doing?”

Since the management of provincial campgrounds began privatizing in the 1980s, the former question has been increasingly ignored in favour of the latter. The emergence of campground brokers takes it to a new low.

There are 1,029 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas in B.C., covering more than 14 million hectares. Povincial parks receive over 21 million visits each year and in 2015 more than 158,000 reservations were made through the Discover Camping site. The provincial park system contributes some $392 million annually to the province’s GDP, according provincial government calculations in recent years.

More than 250 public campgrounds in B.C. are managed by private companies, who bid on management contracts. Over the years a handful of companies have secured a majority of the bids. While the provincial government retains campground ownership and sets a level of expectation for campsite management, including what amenities are provided at what price, the private-sector park facility operators run the ship, so to speak.

The transition from government-managed campsites to those run by businesses has, I think, compromised our priceless park system in B.C. and undercut their worth as a public good.

There is a larger conversation to be had about the values we want maintained in our provincial parks, for current use and generations to come, but the issue of campsite middlemen should be addressed now.

The reservation system should give British Columbians priority by either allocating enough resident-specific sites to meet demand, or by staggering booking openings so British Columbians have first shot at reserving a spot.

 

 

Andrew Weaver is the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and the leader of the B.C. Green Party.

 

Just Posted

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read