B.C. residents to get preferential access to camping in province’s parks

Click to play video: 'B.C. residents get preferential access to parks and campgrounds this summer' B.C. residents get preferential access to parks and campgrounds this summer
B.C. residents get preferential access to provincial campgrounds this summer – May 21, 2020

B.C. residents might have a better chance of getting a coveted camping spot at a provincial park this season.

When reservations reopen on May 25, B.C.’s Environment Minister said only B.C. residents should be making new bookings.

New reservations made after May 25 found to be made by non-B.C. residents will be subject to immediate cancellation without refund.

Click to play video: 'Provincial park camping reservations reopening for BC residents only' Provincial park camping reservations reopening for BC residents only
Provincial park camping reservations reopening for BC residents only – May 21, 2020

The policy is aimed at backing up advice from health officials who have been urging people to stick close to home during the pandemic.

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“We’re urging people to have staycations. We’re discouraging non-essential travel and other provinces are doing the same thing. We are concerned about small communities being overwhelmed,” Environment Minister George Heyman said.

The provincial government is urging out-of-province campers who have pre-existing bookings to cancel their plans to visit voluntarily.

BC Parks says non-B.C. residents with existing reservations are asked to contact the call centre before June 15 to cancel and receive a full refund.

“We are asking people to be responsible, to avoid unnecessary travel,” Heyman said.

However, the province won’t be forcing those out-of-province visitors with pre-existing reservations to cancel their bookings.

“We didn’t think it would be fair for people who made a reservation prior to this new rule to automatically cancel the reservation unless, of course, we are not having that park or those campsites open at all,” Heyman said.

“We are asking them to respect the desire of British Columbians to have access to our own parks. We are offering them the ability to cancel that reservation without penalty until June 15,” he added.

READ MORE: Reopening B.C. — Most provincial parks open for day use only, visitors asked to physically distance

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The Discover Camping website and call centre will open to new reservations on May 25 at 7 a.m.

Campgrounds, camping opportunities and accommodations will begin to open June 1.

Frontcountry and backcountry reservations will be available on a two-month rolling window starting May 25 at 7 a.m.

BC Parks says on May 25 the system will open to bookings up to July 25.

On May 26, the system will be open for July 26; on May 27, the system will be open for July 27 and so on.

The daily release of inventory will continue until the end of the reservable period in each campground is reached.

Reservations can be made in most campgrounds for a maximum stay of 14 days but reservations made within the first two weeks of inventory being released cannot be changed.

BC Parks says this is to prevent overbooking and then people changing their arrival dates to shorten their stay in order to obtain a favourable site or time ahead of other customers. Those reservations can only be cancelled and normal cancellation fees will apply.

Groupsites and reservable picnic shelters will remain closed for the time being; all existing reservations will be cancelled through to Dec. 31.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. parks re-open to visitors with restrictions' B.C. parks re-open to visitors with restrictions
B.C. parks re-open to visitors with restrictions – May 14, 2020

The province is asking visitors to use parks close to home, continue to physically distance and bring their own hand sanitizer amid the coronavirus pandemic. Sanitization of high-touch areas and bathrooms will be stepped up.

A full list of open parks can be found on the BC Parks website.

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