Frustrations rise as B.C.’s campground reservation website crashes on opening day

Click to play video: 'B.C. campground reservation site overwhelmed by demand'
B.C. campground reservation site overwhelmed by demand
British Columbians hoping to nab a camping reservation at one of our provincial parks were in for a frustrating experience. Jennifer Palma reports – May 25, 2020

B.C.’s campground reservation website crashed repeatedly shortly after it opened to the public at 7 a.m. on Monday, as the vast majority of people in the province face limited options for a summer vacation under the coronavirus pandemic.

With more than 800 reservations processed in the first 30 minutes and more than 7,000 by 10 a.m., social media users were venting their frustrations at slow load times, crashes and getting kicked out of the system.

The Ministry of Environment said more than 50,000 people were online at opening trying to simultaneously access the system.

There were more than 27,500 reservations made as of 11 a.m. Monday and 10 reservations being processed every second.

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In a statement Monday morning, the Ministry of Environment said “Although the system was slow this morning, reservations are getting through and there are still lots of sites available within this two-month rolling window.”

Maple Ridge resident Angela Massey told Global News trying to get a camping site Monday morning was a “gong show.”

“My husband and I had three laptops going this morning, three cellphones and we kept on getting system error, system error and we still don’t have a reservation,” she said.

“With the pandemic going on, they should allow first come and first serve right and let campers  in there and let everyone use our parks.”

Most campgrounds and recreation sites are set to open June 1, and to B.C. residents only this year.

Any non-B.C. residents who make a reservation will be subject to immediate cancellation without a refund. Non-residents are urged to cancel any existing bookings.

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

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

“We want to ensure British Columbians have access to summer vacation opportunities close to home, so we are limiting new reservations to B.C. residents,” Environment Minister George Heyman said in a release on Monday.

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The province has added 180 new campsites this year.

To allow for physical distancing, some campgrounds will open later, have fewer sites available, and change which services and communal facilities they offer.

Hot springs, backcountry communal cabins and campgrounds where users must share cooking facilities will remain closed, as will group campsites.

More parks will open for day use on June 1 as well. Playgrounds, halls and picnic shelters will remain closed in provincial parks.

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