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

‘I’ve fallen through the cracks’: Victoria woman calls herself new face of homelessness

Tonya Alton has had to move almost ten times since a ‘wrongful eviction’ in March

View Royal teen inspired by pandemic creates thermal camera from scratch

14-year-old plans to make 10 touchless hand sanitizers for schools

20-storey hotel proposed for downtown Victoria

Wintergarden Hotel proposed for block of Blanshard Street between Fort and View streets

Edward Milne students clean up Whiffen Spit

Volunteers find styrofoam, cigarette butts and a single shoe

Missing python found under vehicle in Victoria

The snake was located more than six kilometres from where it went missing

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read