Backlash over elimination of Golden Ears Park’s first-come, first-served campsites

Click to play video 'Campers sign petition to keep camping at a provincial park in Maple Ridge reservation-free.' Campers sign petition to keep camping at a provincial park in Maple Ridge reservation-free.
With the online reservation system set to go in effect next year, a petition to keep first-come first-serve process of camping at Golden Ears Park is growing. Grace Ke reports – Sep 23, 2018

If you’re planning to take the family camping in Golden Ears Provincial Park next year, you’ll need to head online and book a reservation.

BC Parks is making a change to the way it allocates campsites, moving the campground to 100 per cent reservation required in 2019 and eliminating all first-come first-year sites.

That’s a change for the worse, according to camper Tamara Oye, who says some people simply don’t have the stability in their lives to book a trip months in advance.

READ MORE: Can’t reserve a campsite on B.C.’s booked-out online system? There’s an app for that

Oye said that with her schedule, the only way she and her boyfriend can usually manage a camping trip is to go at the last minute and hope for a site to be available.

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Click to play video 'Extreme camping tactics: What people are doing to get a spot' Extreme camping tactics: What people are doing to get a spot
Extreme camping tactics: What people are doing to get a spot – May 19, 2017

“Sometimes we can’t book time off and we have random days off from work. It’s not always easy to plan a trip and it’s spontaneous,” she told Global News.

Oye is one of more than 2,100 people who have added their name to a petition calling for the province to scrap the change.

“I love camping here and so I wanted to be heard,” she said.

READ MORE: ‘Airbnb of camping’ takes aim at crowded B.C. campgrounds

Angela Massey and Mike Babor are behind the petition and argue that actually landing a reservation is like winning the lottery.

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“Tour companies are starting to get into the action. They’re buying up blocks of sites and re-renting them to the tourists,” said Babor.

“You can only book four months in advance so you’ve got the young adults who may or may not have the ability to use a credit card, and you’ve also got the seniors that may not be tech savvy,” added Massey.

WATCH: Campground reservation complaints

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Campground reservation complaints – May 13, 2016

The Ministry of Environment said the shift is based on growing pressure from the public for access through its online reservation system.

“The overwhelming public demand is for increased reservation opportunities,” the ministry said in a statement.

“BC Parks adjusts reservation inventory on an annual basis in response to occupancy demand.”

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

In the face of growing demand, BC Parks has added 431 new camp sites around the province this year, six of them in Golden Ears Provincial Park.

Of the 10,700 campsites BC Parks manages, currently about 55 per cent are reservable.

Massey said that’s enough but she worries about the future.

“The times of a family just getting up to go camping on the weekend because the weather is good, their shifts allow it, is gone,” she said.