The BC NDP provincial government has reaffirmed its predecessor’s plan to create 1,900 new campsites across the province by 2022.
In today’s budget announcement, $5 million was set aside over the next three years to increase the BC Parks budget to ensure these new campsites receive proper maintenance. It will “ensure that the new campsites will meet the standards that British Columbians and nature lovers around the world expect.”
“Keeping our BC Parks as destinations for locals as well as tourists requires resources and trained staff,” reads the budget.
About 375 new campsites were made ready for the start of the 2017 season, and the remainder will gradually open over the next few years following the original five-year timeline of the $23-million project first implemented by the BC Liberals.
The vast majority of the campsites will be built within high-demand areas of the province, specifically the Lower Mainland, Sea-to-Sky Corridor, Okanagan, Vancouver Island, and the Kootenays. These campsites are located in either recreational sites or provincial parks, which require infrastructure such as new roads and water and sewer connections for shower and toilet facilities.
In addition, the new budget states the provincial government will hire 20 Conservation Officers at a cost of $9 million to enhance programs to reduce human-wildlife contact. It will also spend $14 million over three years to develop and implement a revitalized BC wildlife management initiative.
These new investments are in response to the explosive popularity of BC’s provincial parks and recreational sites over the past few years, which is partially due to a greater number of non-BC resident tourists taking advantage of the low Canadian dollar and more BC residents staying put in the province for their vacations.
To address the issue of higher foot traffic into the parks and recreation sites, the Outdoor Recreational Council of BC is calling on the provincial government to provide a higher level of maintenance and service and to increase the number of park rangers. The organization says the staffing levels have not kept up with the increased designated park areas and number of campsites.