THE NEWS – files Michael Babor and Angela and Randy Massey protested the B.C. Parks decision to eliminate first-come, first-serve camping in Golden Ears Provincial Park during peak season, from mid-May to Labour Day.

Golden Ears campsites will be all reservation only

Maple Ridge group had lobbied to keep some camping for drive-ups

If you want to camp a few days at any site in Golden Ears Provincial Park, you’re going to have to make a reso online, just like you would for a fancy restaurant.

The Ministry of Environment said Wednesday that all the camping sites will have to be reserved online, during the peak season, from May to September.

Golden Ears is one of the busiest parks in the province, drawing about 132,000 visitors in 2019, said a news release. That’s about a 20-per-cent increase since 2012.

With the growing popularity of parks, there’s more demand for more reservation opportunities, “so everyone has fair and equal access to campsites regardless of where they live,” said the release.

The park also now has a satellite connection that allows the public to see real-time vacancies and make same-day reservations.

Read more: Unhappy campers continue reservation fight

The park’s campsites were going to be 100-per-cent reserved online in 2019, until a local group opposed the change. They collected more than 9,000 names on a petition calling for a return to 50-50 reservations online and first-come, first-serve.

The B.C. government agreed to keep 15 per cent of the sites in the park for drive-up campers last summer, and committed to a public consultation process but told the group last July that demographics and demand is for online bookings.

Angela Massey campaigned to keep some campsites non-reservable, and said she just wanted a proper consultation process, saying that consulting with campers in the park who made their reservations online wasn’t representative of public opinion.

She was also told that the ministry doesn’t have to do a full consultation process to make that change. Massey said Wednesday she’ll continue to push for a proper public consultation process. “That’s all I’ve been asking for,” she said.

With online reservations, people have to book their sites months in advance because there’s so much demand, she added.

Mike Babor has been part of the effort to have some campsites available on a drive-up basis and has been camping in the park since he was a kid.

“Parks are no longer for the people. It’s simply a cash grab,” he said Friday at the park entrance.

The number of campsites in the park hasn’t kept up with the growth of population in Metro Vancouver, he added. He wants to return to a 50-50 split of online reservations and drive-up bookings. He’d even accept a 20-80 per cent mix. “But, they’re giving us zero.”

Read more: Campers expect 100 per cent online reservations at Golden Ears next season

Last year, 65 campsites were added to the park, bringing the total to 423 vehicle-accessible sites, 20 walk-in sites, two group sites and 40 marine sites at Alouette Lake.

• Of the 10,700 campsites BC Parks manages, 55 per cent are reservable and 45 per cent are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

• Ten campgrounds have 100 per cent reservable sites during peak season – Rathtrevor Beach, Gordon Bay, Cultus Lake, Sasquatch, Alice Lake, Porteau Cove, Swiws, Bear Creek, Wells Gray and Okanagan Lake.

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