by GOAT STAFF
Changes are coming to the way people reserve campsites in B.C.
Changes to the B.C. Parks Discover Camping Reservation Service for the 2017 season are aiming to improve fair access for everyone looking to book a campsite in B.C.’s provincial parks.
“We want to make sure the campsite reservation service is doing its job as effectively and efficiently as possible,” says the Minister of Environment, Mary Polak.
“We know British Columbians want a fair reservation system, and they want to have just as good a chance of securing a campsite as the next person,” she says, adding that the changes are as a result of abuse of the system committed by a small group of people.
Other changes to the system, according to the Province, include new measures to prevent the reselling of reservations, restrictions around altering arrival dates to prevent the practice of ‘overbooking’ where coveted reservations, including long-weekends, and implementing a pilot project in select parks to reduce the maximum length of stay to seven days during the peak camping season in order to provide more camping opportunities in provincial parks.
Every year, B.C. Parks says it improves the reservation service by conducting annual reviews, reviewing customer feedback and by increasing the number of campgrounds and sites on the system.
The changes being implemented are in response to concerns raised during the 2016 camping season, the B.C. Government says, and the changes will take effect Jan. 2, 2017.
Of the approximate 10,700 campsites B.C. Parks manages, people are able to reserve roughly 55 per cent of them, while 45 per cent remain on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to B.C. Parks.
2016 marked another record year with more than 185,000 reservations — as of mid-September — according to the province, with the majority of reservations, roughly 72 per cent of the total reservations originating in British Columbia.
Everyone is given access to reserve campsite inventory at the same time, according to the Province, and no one — including commercial operators — are given preferential treatment to reserve campsites and the system does not allow block campsite reservations.
Less than 1 per cent of the more than 185,000 bookings in 2016 were made by commercial operators according to the Province, and for the most part these companies booked short stays of two days or less, with the majority occurring Sunday through Thursday.
Reservations are held until 11 a.m. the day after the scheduled arrival date according to B.C. Parks, and if the park is not notified of a late arrival, the site becomes available for others to enjoy.