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Many changes to camping reservation system across B.C. take effect in January

Many changes to camping reservation system across B.C. take effect in January
The provincial government has introduced a sweeping series of changes that it believes will lead to a much fairer system for campers across the province. Popular campgrounds like Haynes Point Provincial Park have traditionally been booked months in advance and often those who book the site take advantage of the current rules, but that will change under the new provisions. (Richard McGuire photo)

With the 2017 camping season not too far down the road, those looking to experience BC Parks are reminded to become familiar with new changes to the Discover Camping Reservation Service. The Province announced significant changes to the Discover Camping Reservation Service in November to enhance fair access for everyone looking to book a campsite in B.C.’s world-renowned provincial parks. These changes take effect on Jan. 2. The system is designed to allow more B.C. residents to have fair access to provincial campgrounds, including Haynes Point Provincial Park, which remains one of the most popular and hard-to-access parks in B.C. (Richard McGuire file photo)

With the 2017 camping season just around the corner, those looking to experience BC Parks are reminded to become familiar with new changes to the Discover Camping Reservation Service.

The Province announced significant changes to the Discover Camping Reservation Service in November to enhance fair access for everyone looking to book a campsite in B.C.’s world-renowned provincial parks.

These changes take effect on Jan. 2, and include:

– Eliminating the mid-March ‘opening day’ for reservations, and extending the three-month rolling window to four months (for example, as of Jan. 2. reservations can only be made at campgrounds with arrival dates on or before May 2);

– New measures to prevent the reselling of reservations;

– Restrictions around altering arrival dates to prevent the practice of overbooking days around long weekends, etc.;

– Implementing a pilot project in select parks to reduce the maximum length of stay to seven days during the peak camping season, to provide more camping opportunities, and

– Expanding the Discover Camping call centre hours.

Every year BC Parks improves the reservation service by conducting annual reviews, reviewing customer feedback and by increasing the number of campgrounds and sites on the system.

To read about the improvements to the Discover Camping reservation system, and to book your next camping trip, please visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/reserve.

Of the approximate 10,700 campsites BC Parks manages, approximately 55 per cent are reservable while 45% remain on a first-come, first-serve (FCFS) basis.

The year 2016 marked another record year with more than 185,000 reservations (as of mid-September) made through Discover Camping with the majority of reservations (approximately 72 per cent) originating from British Columbia.

Demand for BC Parks campsite reservations through Discover Camping has grown by over 91 per cent in the last five years.

Everyone is given access to the reservable campsite inventory at the same time. No one, including commercial operators, are given preferential treatment to reserve campsites and the system does not allow block campsite reservations.

Less than one per cent of the more than 185,000 bookings in 2016 (as of mid-September), were made by commercial operators.

For the most part, these companies booked short stays of two days or less, with the majority occurring Sunday through Thursday.

Reservations are held until 11 a.m. the day after the scheduled arrival date. If the park is not notified of a late arrival, the site becomes available for others to enjoy.

The Discover Camping reservation system has been in place since 1996 and is paid for through reservation fees.

There is no cost to taxpayers and service charges remain at 1996 pricing.

Parking is free in all provincial parks, making them more accessible to families.

To learn more about BC Parks, please go online and visit their website at www.bcparks.ca.

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