New campsites a welcome addition, but need long-term funding
Vancouver – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC) welcomes the B.C. Government’s announcement today about new campsites being built across the province, but cautions that without an accompanying long-term funding commitment to sustain this new infrastructure, it will only add to the existing burden of a system that is under-resourced and over-capacity.
“Additional campsites are something that’s been needed for a long time, but park facilities don’t take care of themselves,” says Jessie Corey, Terrestrial Conservation Manager for CPAWS-BC. “What the province has committed to is only enough funding to build the new campsites. We still need longer-term investments that would keep the current sites and these additional sites operational and maintained to the high standard that people expect from our parks.”
The province has indicated that they expect the revenue from camping fees at the new sites to cover the majority of long-term operations and maintenance costs, but with an existing maintenance backlog that is already estimated to be millions of dollars, it is unclear whether this funding model is truly sustainable.
“We’re worried that in the rush to address the issues of overcrowding, the province isn’t looking at the bigger picture and thinking about what will happen to the new sites and facilities once the initial investment is spent,” says Corey.
“If they can’t say yes to a permanent and significant increase in operational funding for BC Parks, then all these announcements about new campsites are just temporary fixes that will cause more trouble for the system down the road,” adds Corey.
CPAWS-BC is advocating for meaningful, long-term investments in the provincial parks system, and has been pushing for a significant increase to BC Parks’ operational budget to help address the issues of degrading infrastructure, overcrowding, and an overall lack of capacity.
Specifically, CPAWS-BC is recommending the following to ensure the long-term sustainability of BC Parks:
- Increase the number of regular and seasonal Park Ranger positions to 360 (up from the 164 employed in 2016) in order to match pre-2000 staffing levels and account for the additional burden of care placed on these employees as a result of a greatly expanded protected areas system since then;
- Increase BC Parks base/core funding for operations and maintenance to $60 million to match pre-2000 funding levels and account for inflation as well as the additional lands that have been added under to the system since then;
- Increase this base funding annually to eventually match what other leading parks agencies in Canada, like Parks Canada and Alberta Parks, are investing in their protected area systems; and
- Commit to an accompanying increase in long-term operations and maintenance funding to support the expansion of campsites under the management and care of BC Parks.
For more information: www.standupforparks.ca
For interviews, contact:
Jessie Corey, Terrestrial Conservation Manager, CPAWS-BC
firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-685-7445 ext 25