5 Reasons to Stand Up for Parks in the BC Budget

Every fall, the BC government launches a budget consultation process. This province-wide online and in-person forum asks for your input on the financial, and therefore fundamental, priorities for the government in the upcoming fiscal year.

Photo credit: Tori Ball

The annual budget consultation offers a key opportunity for BC’s underfunded and overcrowded provincial parks system – it’s a chance for British Columbians to have their say and make a huge impact for our protected areas!

BC’s parks and protected areas are precious habitat for wildlife and plant species, thrilling sites for outdoor adventures, and iconic parts of our natural legacy. But the crowded trails and declining species are dominating the stories coming out of the woods.

We’re in the last few weeks to g making a difference to the necessary resources our provincial parks in next year’s budget. Will you join us in standing up for BC’s parks?

5 reasons to call on your elected officials to #StandUpForParks in the BC Budget

1.Investing in conservation will help BC meet international biodiversity targets

Time is ticking closer to the 2020 International Biodiversity Targets, in which Canada has committed to protecting 17% of its land and inland waters by 2020. To halt the rapid loss of biodiversity in BC, we must ensure that more land is set aside to shelter species at risk and natural landscapes through a changing climate.

2. Well-protected, safe and accessible parks will result in happier and healthier people

Parks double as places for people to connect with nature and each other. There are immense health costs from inactivity due in part to increasingly urban and screen-based lives. Accessible nature with safe infrastructure means more people can participate in outdoor recreation and is a bonus of increased investment in parks and protected areas.

3. Protected areas drive visitor spending and local livelihoods, bringing benefits to both urban and rural communities

From Hope to Revelstoke, we don’t need to look far to see the direct economic impact that visitors bring to a community. Expanding and improving our provincial protected areas will provide benefits to communities across the province by increasing sustainable tourism. For every $1 invested in the parks system, visitor spending returns over $8 to the economy.

Snowshoers at Cypress Provincial Park near Vancouver. Photo credit: Tori Ball

4. BC Parks must keep up with demand for outdoor recreation as our tourism industry grows

From backcountry skiing to family camping get-aways, residents and visitors to BC have an ever-increasing appetite for outdoor recreation. In 2016, the booming tourism industry contributed over $1 billion in provincial tax revenue alone and contributed more to GDP than mining, forestry & logging, and agriculture & fishing industries. With an investment in staff and infrastructure, we can ensure these areas are ecologically resilient to provide both people and wildlife with safe places to roam.

5. Protected area systems support clean air, water and other ecosystem services necessary for climate change mitigation and adaptation

Last but not least, parks are necessary for watershed-wide ecological health. Protected areas improve air quality and safeguard clean water. These wild areas provide habitat for numerous species and prevent erosion. Protected areas have become increasingly important to shelter many of these natural values through an increasingly disrupted climate.

Read CPAWS-BC’s official comments to the BC Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services here. Although the official provincial consultation has come to a close, our elected leader’s door, inboxes and phone lines are still available for you to voice your opinion. It is up to all provincial leaders to speak up for parks, will you take a moment to email key ministers and your MLA?