COVID-19: Parks overwhelmed as campers pour into Crown land

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Most of BC’s 10,700 campsites are 55% bookable and 45% available on a first come, first served basis.

More than 1,200 new campgrounds have been added to the more than 1,000 parks in the system in the past three years, according to the Department of the Environment.

But this is no ordinary year.

To allow campers to maintain their physical distance, some group campsites have been “redeveloped” for extended family camping with a limit on the number of people who can be on site. Other sites that used to accommodate groups are now “one-party” campsites, with lower occupancy limits.

Over the past five years, visits to provincial parks have increased by about 23%, with a total of 26,253,500 visits recorded last year, including more than 3 million visits to camping.

Figures for this season are not yet available, but according to BC Parks: “As expected at this time of year, as the weather improves and given our unique circumstances, overall park attendance increases. ”

Provincial funding for BC Parks has been stable at around $ 40.7 million over the past three years, but comparisons beyond that are difficult due to how the operations and maintenance numbers are. presented.

Anecdotal reports suggest that increased usage has led to some cracks in the system, with public frustration being regularly visited by park rangers.

Sarah Bulford, former British Columbia Parks Ranger. Photo: Sarah Bulford. /PNG

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“I was experiencing a lot of verbal abuse from park visitors due to law enforcement issues, especially around full parking or camping,” the former BC Parks Ranger said, Sarah Bulford.

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