Dylan Prince chops wood for his campsite at Golden Ears park.

Campsites expanding

BC Parks will be looking at expanding the number of campsites within its provincial parks.

There has been an 80-per-cent increase in campsite reservations in the last five years, and BC Parks will be looking at expanding the number of campsites within provincial parks, said Environment Minister Mary Polak.

Asked whether Golden Ears Provincial Park would be a good candidate, she did  not want to predict before the review is complete, and said developing parks can be a controversial undertaking.

“You also have people who do not want us to make further incursions into wild spaces,” she said, adding that usually campground development in parks encounters “very significant resistance.”

She noted some provincial parks offer no room to expand, but in larger parks cost should not be an issue.

“It’s relatively inexpensive if you have the land,” said Polak.

Stug Burgess, the operations manager for SSG Holdings that manages Golden Ears, said the last expansion at the park was 55 campsites in the North Beach campground in 1998. With pit toilets and a hand pump for water, he said the campground is “more primitive” than the other two campgrounds in the park, which combined offer another 354 sites.

On June 7 of this year, the first sunny day of the new summer, Golden Ears had its busiest day ever, with 3,432 vehicles coming in from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Burgess said the sites are 100 per cent full over summer weekends, but from Sunday to Thursday are at 70-75 per cent capacity during the camping season. For the entire year, the campgrounds operate at 18 per cent of capacity.

He said the government will have to analyze the economics of building more campsites to essentially serve weekends for about 10 weeks.

“If we had 800 campsites available at Golden Ears, they would be booked up all weekend and half empty through the week,” he predicted.

He said with 609 square kilometers, it would be easy to find a suitable place for a new campground or day use area.

“It’s a huge park. Only a very small part of it is easily accessible.”

In the immediate future, Polak’s ministry will focus on making the province’s existing 10,700 campsites more available.

BC Parks will make changes to its online reservation system. Polak wants it to suggest other parks when campers find the sites they want are full, to create more awareness of other parks.

She said Parks will also close loopholes people have found in the online reservation system that allow them to book weeks ahead.

Popular sites may also see reservations reduced from a maximum of two weeks to just one week – as has already been done in some parks.

“I’m more concerned with the perception that people have that campsites are being taken over by overseas visitors,” she said.

Polak said the parks system is still 75 per cent B.C. users and 15 per cent Albertans.

Tour operators can book sites on behalf of clients, but are not allowed to book sites “on spec” she added. Those bookings will be cancelled by BC Parks, and the operator could be barred, she said.

So far BC Parks has seen 11 reports of campground scalping. In some cases people were advertising on public sale websites, and agreed to take the ads down.

Just Posted

MacDuff’s Call: A fond memory, of an old-school teacher

A new year starts in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Flames lose first game of new season

Maple Ridge junior Bs host White Rock Whalers Friday night

Maple Ridge Bears group hosts public forum Monday

Critical time to keep bears away from human conflict

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Pedestrian struck and killed by vehicle in Surrey

Investigators were asking anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Vancouver’s Tristan Connelly shocks the UFC world

Late replacement upsets big favourite Pereira, main event sees Gaethje stop Cerrone in round one

Most Read