The Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (ORCBC) is launching a new campaign ahead of the 2022 budget that calls on the provincial government to boost investment in one of its own recreation agencies to create rural jobs and foster healthy communities.
During the 2021 camping season, more than 3.1 million campers stayed in provincial parks and more than 260,000 reservations were made through BC Parks, marking the highest volume on record.
According to OCRBC, last year BC Parks secured a funding increase of $83 million for new recreation opportunities and improvements for a number of proposed projects.
The ORCBC is urging the provincial government to expand its budget for the upcoming year in order to invest in outdoor recreation around the province.
“We strongly encourage the government to follow suit in this year’s budget by investing in recreation on the other 80 per cent of the land base,” said Louise Pedersen, Executive Director for the ORCBC.
Recreation Sites and Trails BC, a government agency within the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development operates with only 50 staff members and an $8 million annual operating budget.
The ORCBC says that as the Recreation Sites and Trails BC oversees more than 1,000 recreation sites and 20,000 kilometres of trails in all regions of the province, and faces a significant maintenance backlog, an overreliance on partnerships with volunteer recreation groups, and an inability to participate effectively in land use and recreation planning.
They worry that the agency seems to have somehow slipped under the radar of government priorities.
The ORCBC that well-planned and managed recreation amenities are an integral part of the outdoor recreation economy and BC’s brand as a $20.5 billion tourist destination.
“Outdoor recreation is not just a stalwart source of physical activity, mental wellbeing and social connectedness during trying times; it is also a significant economic powerhouse that can invigorate and strengthen BC’s rural towns by creating jobs, diversifying economies and boosting tourism,” said Pedersen.
The ORCBC has set up a campaign to seek more funding for recreation in the 2022 provincial budget by asking residents of B.C. to contact their local MLA and asking to support a budget boost to Recreations Sites and Trails BC in the 2022 provincial budget.