Those unable to book a spot in one of Vancouver Island's approximately 1

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

Esquimalt High School is one of six Greater Victoria schools that reported a COVID-19 exposure over the weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Six new Greater Victoria school exposures reported over weekend

Steady rise in school exposures since return from spring break

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Paramedic Matthew Schlatter of Victoria is living a fuller life today due to the double lung transplant he received in 2019. He encourages B.C. residents to register as an organ donor and let their families know their wishes. (Instagram/Matthew Schlatter)
Victoria man living a full, active life after double lung transplant

Matt Schlatter encourages people to register as an organ donor to help others live

Passengers in rows four to 10 onboard WestJet flight 449 from Calgary to Victoria April 6 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Flight from Calgary to Victoria added to COVID-19 exposure list

Passengers onboard WestJet flight 449 April 6 affected

Victoria Police’s Explosive Disposal Unit came to Oak Bay April 10 to destroy a potentially dangrous explosive device that washed up on shore. (Oak Bay RCMP photo)
Washed-up explosive device destroyed by VicPD bomb squad

An Oak Bay resident called in the potentially dangerous debris

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 6

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Most Read