Those unable to book a spot in one of Vancouver Island's approximately 1

Those unable to book a spot in one of Vancouver Island's approximately 1

Parks minister considering tweaks to camping reservation system

Mary Polak says B.C. needs more campsites, but in the meantime could take small steps to make it easier to secure reservations

The minister in charge of B.C. Parks says we need more campsites.

But in the meantime, she is considering tweaking the reservation system as a way to address the increasingly difficult task of booking a site.

B.C.’s Discover Camping is poised to have a record year for reservations, with empty public campsites on Vancouver Island becoming increasingly difficult to find, particularly on weekends. Complaints of queue-jumping and reservation-scalping are becoming more frequent.

In a statement issued Thursday, Mary Polak said the provincial parks system has become a victim of its own success.

“There are simply too many people chasing too few campsites,” Polak (below) said. “The ultimate solution is to increase the supply of campsites, but that will take some time.

Mary Polak“Availability of land in high-demand areas is one challenge but, as well, for everyone who wants to see expanded campsites for recreational purposes, you have another person who says, ‘No, I don’t want you to cut down more trees.’”

In the short term, Polak is considering some changes in the booking system to give more people an opportunity to get a site.

Ideas include: adjusting the reservation opening dates; lengthening the three-month rolling reservation window; and shortening the maximum stay in high-demand parks from 14 days to seven.

The most common method of cheating the system is to book a lengthier stay than you want in order to secure days that otherwise would not be available, then cancelling the days you didn’t want.

Polak stresses that less then one per cent of the sites booked go to commercial operators, who then re-sell the reservations as part of tour packages, and less than a dozen cases of out-and-out private scalping have been found.

There are about 5,800 reservable campsites in B.C., about 1,300 of them on Vancouver Island. Last year, more than 158,000 reservations were booked through Discover Camping and this year is on pace to top that, with 131,000 made so far. British Columbians make about 75 per cent of the reservations.

“Every year we make changes to improve the Discover Camping system to ensure it is fair and every year some people find new ways to circumvent the system,” Polak said.

“All options will be carefully considered to make sure we don’t negatively impact the majority of our users, while trying to solve a problem that is only being abused by a handful of reservation holders.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Getting enough Vitamin D can be challenging for Canadians, especially during winter months. (CONTRIBUTED)
ACTIVE LIVING: The ‘sunshine vitamin’ plays a vital role in our health

Port Alberni registered dietitian Sandra Gentleman writes about health issues

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns gives a thumbs up to active transportation during a presentation of the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce's Bike SEAT program at McLean Mill National Historic site in Port Alberni on April 16, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
QUINN’S QUIPS: MP Gord Johns takes victory ride for cycling strategy

Johns gained a reputation as the bicycle-riding MP during his first year

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Volunteers from the Alberni Valley Enhancement Society release a bucket filled with 5,000 coho fry into Kitsuksis Creek on the bridge at Batty Road, Saturday, April 24, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY DAVID HOOPER)
Volunteers release thousands of coho fry into Port Alberni creeks

Fry come from small hatchery on McLean Mill National Historic Site

In the five years since the Dry Creek flood abatement project was completed, the pathway built behind commercial buildings on Third Avenue has become overgrown with Scotch broom and other weeds. (PHOTO COURTESY RANDY FRASER)
‘New’ Dry Creek path falls into disrepair in Port Alberni

City’s land access contracts lapse as condition of pathway beside creek deteriorates

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

Most Read