Parks Day is a reminder of BC’s failing wilderness protection


How can we celebrate Parks Day when we see our parks being degraded?

Any given Friday at the CPAWS-BC office begins the same: we swap stories of our outdoor plans for the weekend, ranging from climbing to hiking to lazy river floating. With a province so full of wilderness fanatics, we know many other offices have the same tradition. BC’s communities are full of people waiting to head out into the wild woods that tempt us from the windows of our workplaces during the week.

This weekend is no different, except for one thing: today, July 15, is Parks Day. Today families, friends and solo explorers embark on various activities celebrating the diverse array of parks we have here in BC. Unfortunately, today is also a reminder of the overburdened and underfunded BC Parks system. With shockingly few park rangers and failing infrastructure, our parks are struggling to keep up to our demands. BC Parks is in need of a long-overdue investment from the province, necessary to keep our beautiful parks healthy and protected for future generations.

From broken bridges to blown-down signs to closed (and filthy) vault toilets, our parks show signs of disrepair down almost every trail. Operational funding for BC Parks has hovered around $30 million since 2001. During the same time period, the amount of land in BC Parks has almost doubled. This has left BC Parks funded at about $2 per hectare. Compare that sad number to Alberta Parks, which is funded at more than ten times the amount per hectare. Last year, there were only 7 full-time rangers to monitor and patrol over 14 million hectares of provincial parks in BC. In the meantime, our parks are seeing a surge in visitors, leading to overcrowding on trails and other park infrastructure.

Celebrate Parks Day by helping us make a better future for BC's parks

Last year the BC Parks Futures Strategy was put forward as a solution. However, it has major gaps which leave our parks open to further degradation. BC Parks needs a long-term commitment to stable and sufficient funding. To pull our parks out of this downward spiral, CPAWS-BC is calling on the BC government to:

  1. Increase base funding for BC Parks to $60 million per year
  2. Continue annual increases to eventually match levels of leading Canadian parks agencies, like Parks Canada and Alberta Parks
  3. Increase the number of park rangers to match pre-2000 staffing levels, at a minimum

A strong parks system provides habitat protection, outdoor recreation and green jobs. To continue marketing these parks as world-class without increasing their funding is a sham. Our government has the opportunity to reverse the trend of environmental degradation in our parks, and it’s up to us to hold them accountable to the task.

Have questions or want to share your stories about park experiences? Shoot us an email at info@cpawsbc.org or a facebook message at https://www.facebook.com/cpawsbc/