New upgrades will make B.C. campsite reservation more fair: government

Province attempts to address complaints of over-booking, re-selling of reservations

Golden Ears Provincial Campground.

The B.C. government hopes new changes will make opening day reservation madness a thing of the past for the 2017 camping season.

In January, the province will eliminate an opening day for reservations to avoid the delays and crashes in the online Discover Camping booking system. Instead, you will be able to book your campsite four months ahead of your desired date to camp.

“We want to make sure the campsite reservation service is doing its job as effectively and efficiently as possible. We know British Columbians want a reservation system that is fair, and that they have just as good a chance of securing a campsite as the next person,” said Minister of Environment Mary Polak in a news release Monday.

The changes are in response to a record-breaking camping season last summer, where sites were booked up far in advance and many people were left out. Others complained that people were snapping up campsites and re-selling the reservations for profit. Forty-six such incidents were reported to B.C. Parks last year.

The government says it’s cracking down on reservation scalpers. Under the new regulations, when a campsite is reserved, the guests will have to provide one or two permit holder names, and at least one permit holder will have to be on site, with identification, throughout the stay.

The province is also launching a pilot project to shorten the maximum number of nights you’re allowed to stay in five popular campgrounds during peak season. They are Martha Creek near Revelstoke, Mount Fernie, Porteau Cove near Vancouver, Loveland Bay near Campbell River and Ellison near Vernon.

More than 185,000 reservations were made last summer, with close to three-quarters coming from B.C. residents. The next highest shares are from Alberta at 14 per cent, the U.S. at 3.6 per cent, the rest of Canada at 2.8 per cent, and all European countries combined are 6.6 per cent of the total.

Just over half of the approximately 10,700 provincial campsites in B.C. can be reserved in advance.