MILLIONS of people headed out to B.C.’s provincial parks this year to experience the very best that nature has to offer.
The record number of visitors is resulting in new investments to make the future BC Parks experience even better.
More than 3.1 million campers stayed in provincial parks during the 2021 camping season, and more than 260,000 reservations were made on Discover Camping, marking the highest volume on record.
“This year has been another exceptionally busy season for BC Parks with more people than ever seeking the benefits to their health and well-being that nature and open spaces provide,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, on Monday. “Caring for and expanding BC Parks is an investment in a healthy future. These new projects provide even more people with the opportunity to explore and experience British Columbia’s spectacular beauty and retain the vitally important connection to nature.”
BC Parks is investing $21.5 million during the next three years to expand and enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation, including new campsites, trails and upgrades to facilities. The investment is part of an $83-million budget increase to the BC Parks operating and capital budgets, combined, to strengthen management of the parks system and provide a more enjoyable visitor experience.
Planning for several proposed projects is underway and includes:
* Cypress Provincial Park: improve facilities within the park, including refurbished trails and better backcountry access
* Garibaldi Provincial Park: develop the loop trail linking Singing Pass to Blackcomb Mountain
* Golden Ears Provincial Park: parking lot expansion
* Stawamus Chief Provincial Park: improve existing trails and develop new trails, provide additional parking
* Cultus Lake: develop the Watt Creek parking lot to improve access to Teapot Hill Trail
* Miracle Beach Provincial Park: trail enhancements, including a new bicycle flow track and accessibility upgrades
* Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park: improve accessibility for day-use trails
* Sun-Oka Provincial Park: reconstruct paved trails within the park to improve accessibility
* Babine Mountains Provincial Park: upgrade and reroute existing trails and build new trails
* Lakelse Lake Provincial Park: improve accessibility to the Twin Spruce Trail and the Furlong Bay Campground
Planning for additional projects, including campsite expansion, is underway. The Province is consulting with First Nations governments and conducting environmental and archeological assessments before moving forward with the projects.
“We are taking strides to ensure our parks are inclusive and welcome for all,” said Kelly Greene, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment. “As well as our plans for more campsites, improved trails and better accessibility, we are working in partnership with First Nations to reflect Indigenous history and culture in our provincial parks and deepen our understanding of connection to the land.”
In addition to the proposed projects, $2 million in new infrastructure maintenance funding will be invested in all regions of the province on high-use trail and facility improvement projects. Planning for these projects is underway, and some have already started.
To further expand opportunities for outdoor recreation, BC Parks is investing an additional $5 million per year for land acquisitions. The Province regularly adds land to the parks and protected areas system through the acquisition of private land and partnerships with conservation groups, individual donors, the BC Parks Foundation and supporters.
* During the past four years, more than 1,500 campsites have been added to provincial parks and recreation sites in high-demand areas.
* Of those sites, 500 have been on the Lower Mainland, including Cultus Lake, Golden Ears, Chilliwack Lake, Stawamus Chief and Garibaldi.
* New campsite developments incorporate accessible design standards wherever possible, so people living with disabilities can enjoy outdoor activities with fewer barriers.
For more information about BC Parks, visit: www.bcparks.ca