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Manitobans frustrated over provincial campground reservation system

Manitoba camping registration opens with technical difficulties again
Many Manitobans report frustrations with the provincial camping registration site which opened up early Monday morning. As Global's Amber McGuckin reports, some users say they waited in line upwards of two hours, only to be booted out.

With the province encouraging Manitobans to stay in the province this summer to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, many people have been frustrated while trying to book a camping site.

On Monday the province opened up the booking website to people wanting to secure a campsite this summer.

For many, that meant waiting in a long virtual line.

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Doug Jacques and his wife both logged on using separate devices when the bookings opened right at 7 a.m. he says she got on first and there were already a staggering 2,500 people ahead of her.

Thirty-five minutes later, when he was finally able to log on, Jacques says there was roughly 7,000 people ahead of him.

It was some three-hours later before Jacques says they were able to book a couple sites.

“My computer was kicked out twice. We were kicked out of the line twice thinking ‘oh no we are going to be way at the back’ but for whatever reason it came back about five minute later and I was still in the 7,000 range,” he said later in the day Monday.

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“Now you can chuckle about it but it’s very frustrating in the moment and luckily I’m unemployed right now so i had time this morning.”

A provincial spokesperson told Global News any time you open to a flood of demand, there can be issues.

They added that there was a glitch in the system early Monday morning and while the call centre was able to take reservations, the servers needed to be rebooted.

This caused some users to be bumped from the queue.

By 11 a.m., 9,614 reservations had been made, 1,060 more than last year.

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It took Trevor Esau about an hour and 45-minutes before he was able to book a site — and he started the morning with two computers and a pair of smartphones at the ready.

“It is a frustrating process and of course you’re going through it thinking there has to be a better way to do this. There just has to be,” he said.

“This is an archaic system that can’t take this many people but it’s the same every year so you prepare.”

This year, due to concerns around spreading COVID-19, there are extra precautions in place for people who are visiting provincial parks in Manitoba.

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As part of the province’s Phase 1 of reopening the economy after its pandemic-related shutdown, people need to keep at least two metres apart, except for brief exchanges.

Campers must bring their own toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other personal hygiene products to provincial campgrounds, yurts and vacation cabins and gas up before leaving home.

READ MORE: Manitoba playgrounds, rec facilities and campgrounds reopening Monday

They also are supposed to wear water shoes or sandals while using shower facilities and to not use local health providers unless it’s an emergency.

No more than 10 people may gather in common areas.