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

EDITORIAL: Editor bids farewell

Editor Paige Mueller will be leaving The Free Press team at the end of July

Aislinn Dressler competes in 2020 Youth Innovation Showcase

Dressler was a finalist at the showcase, exhibiting her energy efficient fridge design

Stories decorate city pathways for new reading initiative

The Fernie Women’s Resource Centre began the initiative in support of the local early years community

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Metal detector rings true for Cranbrook couple

A Cranbrook couple went looking for a missing ring after reading a plea on Facebook

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Most Read