In an effort to accommodate growing demands, British Columbia’s provincial government plans to create more than 1,900 new campsites throughout the province.
Premier Christy Clark made the announcement on Monday, noting that the province would spend up to $22.9 million to open the sites, which would include associated roads, water and sewer expansion, outhouse facilities, and more park rangers.
The new sites were announced as part of the B.C. Parks’ Future Strategy, which involves a number of other initiatives, including developing a parks advisory council; opening the parks to researchers from universities and climate-related agencies to monitor for effects of climate change; creating B.C. Parks-themed licence plates; and studying the potential for a loyalty card program that would offer discounts to users.
Campers will be able to find the sites in nearly every part of the province, both in and out of provincial parks, but the most will be built in high-demand areas like the Lower Mainland, Okanagan Valley, and Kootenays. They will add to the more than 10,000 front country campsites and 2,ooo backcountry campsites in B.C. right now.
It may sound like a lot of sites already, but it won’t be enough if the province wants to keep up with the sudden influx of campers. According to preliminary numbers, more than 182,000 campsite reservations were made in B.C.’s provincial parks this year, which is a 16 percent increase over last year. In 2015, they rose by 19 percent, and in 2014 they rose by nine percent, making this the third year in a row that reservation numbers have gone up. But the growth hasn’t gone unnoticed.
In March, the number of people trying to book sites for the season caused the Discover Camping reservation system to crash. The race the reserve became so competitive, in fact, that it led to people reselling their campsites at a higher price. Others would reportedly make a long reservation that ended in a long weekend, then cancel the first part of the trip, allowing them to get those coveted dates before others had access. Naturally, this caused a bit of a stir, especially for people who were left empty handed after waking up early to book a site months in advance.
Earlier this month, the province made changes to the booking system in attempt to address complaints about scalping and overbooking of sites. These additional campsites will (hopefully) be the final step to satisfying the province’s outdoor lovers.