Hot demand spurs camping reservation black market in B.C.

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Campground reservation complaints
Campground reservation complaints – May 13, 2016

Reserving a campsite in a B.C. park has gotten so competitive, it’s resulted in campers scalping their unused reservations for up to 10 times their value.

The BC Parks camp reservation system was overloaded with campers hoping to snag their little slice of outdoor paradise when reservations for the summer opened in March. Despite new fee increases, the website had three times the traffic volume as it did in 2015.

READ MORE: Summer camping reservations open as site crashes

Hot demand has spurred creative ways to guarantee the elusive camp reservation.

According to Sam Waddington, owner of Mt. Waddington Outdoors in Chilliwack, savvy campers will book a big block of time ahead of a long weekend without the intention of using the site for the entire period. They will then scalp their remaining days at up to 10 times what they bought them for, to any camper who rolls through without a reservation.

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“In the summer at some of the busiest sites, it’s a marvel. You’ve got this line up of campers and boats and trailers, people just moving their whole family out to spend a weekend in a BC park, and they’re getting turned around. The nearest site that might have availability might be an hour drive away, so they’re willing to pay the premium,” said Waddington, who is also a Chilliwack city councillor.

With the scalped camping passes, “people are spending $100, $200, $300 a night for a prime site right on the water. They would never probably pay that in advance, but when you have everyone there and you have no other options, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.”

Despite the problem, Waddington says it hasn’t taken over the entire camping culture, yet.

“It’s not a huge part of the provincial parks climate. It’s a handful of sites, but in those sites there are people who know what they’re doing and there’s certainly scalped tickets going out the door.”

While the large mass of online bookings occurred in April, anyone hoping to make a last minute reservation isn’t completely out of luck. A quick search for this weekend results in a number of available sites at Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria, Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, and Lakelse Lake Provincial Park. The Victoria Day and Canada Day long weekends also still have several sites with availability.

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Global News has reached out to BC Parks for comment.

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