Michael Babor (left) 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. (THE NEWS/files)

Unhappy campers continue reservation fight

Want consultation on Golden Ears Park reserve system

The group fighting for more drive-up camping spots in Golden Ears Provincial Park, armed with an 8,000-name petition, got a meeting with senior B.C. Parks officials on Thursday.

Angela Massey said her Maple Ridge-based group will continue to push for half the campsites to be drive-up. B.C. Parks had announced Golden Ears would be reservation-only as early as this summer. They reversed that decision after the local group of “unhappy campers,” led by Massey, her husband Randy and friend Michael Babor started their public campaign.

They have been successful in keeping 15 per cent of the sites at Golden Ears drive-up for the coming camping season. But 350 of the 409 sites will be reserved online.

Now, Massey said they have also secured a commitment from B.C. Parks to public consultation, and meet with her group, again.

She is encouraged by the involvement of senior government officials.

“I think we have a chance to change the policy for all of B.C., to make it more equitable,” she said.

The alternative, she added, will be for people to plan their holidays four months in advance. Then they will have to book campsites using an online system, where desirable camping days are booked up within minutes of becoming available.

They will be up against people will have already booked two weeks earlier. They schedule their two-week booking to end on the most desirable days – the ones they really want – and then cancel the earlier days they never wanted. They pay a cancellation fee, but are willing in order to get the dates they want.

“That’s how they game the system,” said Massey.

B.C. Parks said it has made more sites online reservable in reaction to public demand.

“The overwhelming public demand is for increased reservation opportunities,” said spokesperson David Karn in September. “B.C. Parks adjusts reservable inventory on an annual basis in response to occupancy demand.”

The Golden Ears reservations were at 60 per cent reservable in 2016, 75 per cent in 2017, and 85 per cent in 2018. They were announced at 100 per cent reservable online for 2019, until Massey’s group got involved.

“Now we’re fighting for next year,” said Massey.

“Their goal is still to get to 100 per cent.”

She said she speaks for a lot of campers,and is armed with a petition that has more than 7,900 signatures online, and more that have been handwritten. All want the convenience of being able to drive into Golden Ears, rather than booking online four months in advance.

They met with Jennie Aikman, the director of B.C. Parks for the Southern Coast Region, and three other parks officials. With Massey was Mel Turner and Lucien Campeau, of the B.C. Parks Elders Council – former parks employees who still advocate on parks issues. Campeau helped to design Golden Ears.

Massey said they pointed out that there is no provincial policy on the reservation system, so decisions are being made on an ad hoc basis. Some parks, such as Cultus Lake, have gone to 100 per cent reservations, with no public consultation process, and no policy, she said.

The result, said Massey, is the campgrounds might be 100 per cent booked, but many campers don’t show up for their sites if there is poor weather, or for other reasons. Other campers can’t get into the park, even though sites are not being used.

That happens a lot, she said.

“The sign says ‘park full,’ but it’s empty, and we’re by ourselves in the middle Gold Creek.”

Her group is saying that all B.C. Parks need to be operated based on a set of guiding principles, not systems set up for the convenience of park operators.

“We want to see a formalized public consultation process, and a policy,” she said.

The camping season is generally from May to the Labour Day weekend.

B.C. Parks notes campsites that have not been reserved are available on a walk-up basis for one or two nights, as capacity allows, all season.

All of Golden Ears campsites are also 100 per cent walk-up outside of peak season. Of the 10,700 campsites B.C. Parks manages, approximately 55 per cent are reservable and 45 per cent remain available on a walk-up basis.

Just Posted

Whitecaps’ Dalrymple part of soccer panel in Ridge

High Performance Pathway and Grassroots information session set

ElderDog looking to start ‘pawd’ in Maple Ridge

Non-profit group provides support for seniors and canine companions

Knights midgets win in another shutout

Bantams lose close game against Chilliwack

Liberal pamphlet criticizes NDP over Maple Ridge housing plan

Mail-out says city deserves better on homelessness

Man’s body found in downtown Maple Ridge

Death not suspicious: Ridge RCMP

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Many teens don’t know they’re vaping nicotine, Health Canada finds

Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey finds youth unaware of nicotine product risk

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man charged with daughters’ murders

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

Tofino beckons Trudeau for quiet Easter vacation

Environmental group hopes latest Pacific Rim vacation inspires change in prime minister

B.C. man turned to dating site for pimp operation, court hears

In court the details of how Simon Rypiak lured 4 women into prostitution revealed

5 to start your day

Death in Surrey being probed by homicide investigators, FOI offers top dog names in White Rock and more

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants fall in overtime

Team still leads WHL series against Spokane

Most Read