Plans to improve B.C.’s Provincial Parks are in the works.
The Province detailed its B.C. Parks Future Strategy on Monday, and it’s looking to build on its “world-renowned” system by hiring more park rangers for conservation, improving disability services, and launching a new B.C. Parks Foundation to give locals and (local) businesses a voice, according to an official statement.
“We know British Columbians are passionate about our parks,” says Environment Minister Mary Polak.
“The world has also taken notice, too. Similar to what we’ve accomplished with the Great Bear Rainforest, our success in delivering unparalled experiences with nature has brought increasing demand to accommodate more people, programs and facilities,” she says.
As part of the new strategy, the Province will invest close to $23-million over five years for campsite expansion, the statement reads, while the Province will continue its $15-million investment to maintain and refurbish existing campsites and backcountry recreation sites throughout B.C.
The Province will add more than 1,900 new campsites to help meet the “growing demand”, the statement reads, with more than 800 of the sites being located in provincial parks and over 1,000 will be in recreation sites, delivering a range of camping experiences in areas of highest demand.
“B.C. Parks define who we are as British Columbians and are a vital part of the B.C. advantage,” says Premier Christy Clark.
“Protecting our world-class parks for future generations ensures we continue to attract global attention through tourism, investment and research, as we honour our natural history,” she says.
The strategy, according to Clark, celebrates Frist Nations’ heritage and cultural values, and seeks to reflect their unique ties to B.C.’s protected lands and waters.
The strategy also includes new opportunities for First Nations, local governments, community groups, businesses, other stakeholders and the general public to have a greater role in making sure B.C. Parks continues to provide globally recognized recreation and conservation, according to the statement.
The new B.C. Parks Foundation, according to the statement, will see the Province contribute a $5-million endowment to seed the new foundation and to allow private-sector donations to be managed independently. The foundation will help generate private revenue, the statement reads, to be spent on promoting and enhancing the experience in B.C. Parks.
An estimated 21 million tourists visit B.C. Provincial Parks each year — the third largest parks system in North America, behind the United States’ National Park Service and Parks Canada — as B.C. has the highest percentage of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all provincial Canadian jurisdictions.