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

Oak Bay brothers scoop 10 kg of poop from park paths in 30 mins

Family picks up dog poo to give back, inspire others to be more responsible

Crash snarles traffic on Highway 17

Traffic southbound is seriously delayed and northbound down to one lane on… Continue reading

UPDATED: Materials linked to 1992 Colwood murder found at construction site in Metchosin

West Shore RCMP investigating to determine if relevant to the old case

Federal government announces over $115 million to Royal Canadian Navy

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was at CFB Esquimalt to announce missile system upgrades

Victoria woman sets date to swim the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Susan Simmons will attempt to be the first to swim the Strait twice starting Saturday afternoon

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Safeway union urgest rejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

Saanich teen takes her karate skills onto the world stage

National champion Olivia Brodie will compete at the 2018 Junior Pan-American Karate Championships

First long-awaited Cyclone lands near Victoria airport

Military helicopter first of nine to come to Saanich Peninsula base

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Most Read