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B.C. campground complaints prompt change for 2017

WATCH ABOVE: If you want to reserve a campsite in B.C. next year, there are some big changes that you need to know about. Consumer reporter Anne Drewa has the details

Changes are coming to BC parks camping reservation system.

Beginning in 2017, the mid-March opening day for reservations will be scrapped and the three month rolling reservation window will be extended.

It now means reservations for the 2017 season can be made four months in advance of an individual campground’s first reservable date.

The changes come after complaints surfaced last year over the reselling of reservations, overbooking, and long weekends being unfairly secured.

READ MORE: Government says camping spot crisis due to lack of supply

“Every year, we make adjustments. Every year, people find innovative ways to get around that. We hope with the adjustments this year, we will have dealt with any of those new complaints,” said Environment Minister Mary Polak.

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Much of the blame has also been directed at tour companies accused of block booking and then reselling the sites to foreign visitors for profit.

READ MORE: Hot demand spurs camping reservation black market in B.C.

To prevent reselling, permit holders will no longer be allowed to change the names on their reservations and at least one of the permit holders must be present during the stay. The province says in 2016, BC Parks is aware of 46 incidents of attempts to resell Discover Camping reservations.

In addition, the province will be implementing a pilot project in certain provincial campgrounds, shortening the 14 day maximum stay policy to seven days in five high-occupancy campgrounds during peak season. Those areas include Martha Creek, Mount Fernie, Porteau Cove, Loveland Bay, and Ellison.

The province is hoping a maximum seven night policy will free up more than 1,000 campsite vacancies.

Demand for BC campsite online reservations has grown more than 91 per cent in the last five years. The changes will take effect January 2017.