B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman speaks to reporters at the B.C. legislature, May 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

COVID-19: B.C. park reservations surge as campgrounds reopen

Keep trying, many sites not reservable, George Heyman says

B.C.’s campsite reservation service for provincial parks is seeing more than its usual surge in demand as people restricted from travelling in the COVID-19 pandemic try to book their getaways.

The B.C. Parks discovercamping.ca website didn’t crash when it opened after a shutdown of provincial parks that took effect April 8, Environment Minister George Heyman said May 25, but it has been slow enough that browsers may time out. People should keep trying the website, or consider the option of the Discover Camping call centre (1-800-689-9025) that has a $5 surcharge to book, he said.

“Every year when we open reservations there is a flood of people on the website,” Heyman told CFAX radio station in Victoria. “And this year because people’s travel options are restricted, people obviously are really desperate to get out, to get close to nature, to be out with their family and they know they’re in all likelihood not leaving the province.”

Provincial campgrounds themselves reopen June 1, and Heyman notes that about 45 per cent of the campsites in B.C. are still operated on a first-come, first-served basis. The booking window has also been shortened from four months in advance to two.

RELATED: RCMP recommended closure of provincial parks in April

RELATED: Hope for ‘Cascadia’ tourism amid U.S. border restrictions

“We know in some cases people can’t make those plans that far in advance, so today we’re open for two months from today,” Heyman said. “Tomorrow there will be another day added and it will go on like that.”

Not all campsites and trails in provincial parks will be reopening. A review of the more than 10,000 B.C. Parks sites has determined that some are too confined to be safe under the province’s public health guidelines for maintaining physical distance.

“Not every campsite will be open, like the double campsites with one driveway,” Heyman said. “We are also encouraging people to bring their own hand sanitizer.”

B.C. joined Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in restricting new campsite reservations to in-province residents only as part of the reopening plan. Heyman said he “heard loud and clear from British Columbians” that if they are expected to stay close to home, they should have priority for parks and campsites.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Oak Bay couple honoured for 35 years volunteering

Mayor awards distinguished Oak Leaf to Bert and Doris Dinsmore

Meet the Liberal candidate for Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Roxanne Helme about ‘governance, not politics’

Hospital foundation president praises generosity of Peninsula residents

Karen Morgan said support during COVID-19, financial and otherwise, has been touching

New Democrats on Saanich Peninsula still looking to announce candidate

While BC Liberals have nominated Stephen Roberts, New Democrats have not yet announced candidate

UPDATED: West Shore RCMP locate dangerous, ‘high-risk sex offender’ thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

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

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read