Camping enthusiasts across the province will be happy to know that they’ll have more options this year.
More than 350 sites are set to open just in time for this year’s camping season.
The addition will provide 52 new sites near Squamish, 55 in the Okanagan, 20 in northern B.C., and over 100 on Vancouver Island.
Last year, local campers expressed frustration after popular campgrounds sold out within minutes.
That frustration turned to controversy after reports travel companies and scalpers had snatched up prime spots, only to resell them for much more.
Environment Minister Mary Polak says the B.C. government is working to avoid similar controversy this year.
“We’ve made adjustments to our online booking system this past year – in fact, we do it every year. We review what’s happened and what the booking system has seen, and make changes to that to adapt to the new ways people find to game that system.”
Chief among those changes being an overhaul of the campsite reservation system, which now only allows campers to book their site four months in advance.
Polak says the new system is starting to pay off.
“What we’re seeing thus far with our bookings is that while it’s very busy, we’re seeing much more of a spreading out of the bookings. So it seems to have dealt largely with some of the issues we had last year.”
Exactly how many of the 350 new campsites will be reservable in advance of the camping season remains to be seen.
Putting it to the test
To see if that system is all it’s cracked up to be, we looked at the weekend availability of campsites at Golden Ears Park’s North Beach campground, one of the most popular spots for Vancouver campers.
Canada Day weekend (left) is, no surprise, completely booked.
Meanwhile, the weekend of July 21 – 23 – exactly 4 months from the writing of this article – is a similar picture (right.)
And that availability is much the same for every weekend as far back as mid-May.
Similar sites on Vancouver Island, however, are available even through Canada Day weekend.
So it looks like despite the government’s best efforts, Vancouverites who want to spare themselves the drive – and ferry ride – are staying home again this year.
With files from Tristan Martin-Woodhouse