BC Parks will receive a funding boost of $83 million over three years to create more campsites, hire more park staff, and improve hiking trails to make them more accessible.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman made the announcement Friday, along with Kelly Greene, parliamentary secretary for environment, and Annita Mcphee, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
The BC Parks capital budget will increase by an average of 57 per cent and the operating budget will increase by an average of 22 per cent for each year of Budget 2021, the government said.
“It’s absolutely clear how deeply people care about our provincial parks. The pandemic has brought more people than ever to visit BC Parks so they can safely spend time with family and friends while connecting to nature,” said Heyman.
Heyman said the funding could allow for 100 more campsites every year in the popular areas, and to enhance trails so they are more accessible for parents with strollers or people in wheelchairs.
For this season, approximately 185 sites are being added to BC Parks, including a new 90-site campground in Manning Park, which is scheduled to open in July.
The money will also go to hiring more staff to enhance park stewardship, said Heyman.
He urged British Columbians to continue to follow the advice of the provincial health officer and to only visit parks in their area because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Discover Camping reservation service opened for B.C. residents on March 8, however Heyman is asking people to pick a campground as close to home as possible.
On July 8, people living in other provinces can reserve campsites for the remainder of the season though the government may change this policy depending on the pandemic and the number of cases.
More to come…