New survey finds winter won’t be putting a chill on recreation for British Columbians

For Immediate Release
December 14, 2020

New survey finds winter won’t be putting a chill on recreation for British Columbians

Survey shows enthusiasm for winter activities but concerns about park preparedness.

Traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples/Vancouver, BC — A new online survey from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC) found that British Columbians expect busier parks and trails as more people head outdoors this winter. This new survey draws out concerns around long-standing issues created by years of underfunding coupled with increasing visitor numbers in BC’s provincial parks.

“This past summer we saw a spike in the demand for outdoor adventures, and all signs point to outdoor enthusiasts across the province keeping the good times outside rolling this winter,”  says Tori Ball, Terrestrial Campaigner with CPAWS-BC. “It’s essential that we make sure people can access parks and trails safely as the outdoors continue to provide comfort and joy through a challenging holiday and winter season.”

Key findings of CPAWS-BC’s new survey include:

  • People expect busier parks this winter: A majority (58%) of people anticipate parks will be busier this season 
  • 24% of respondents said that, given travel restrictions, they’re going to try a new winter activity this season. The most popular new activities were cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
  • Respondents said they were either somewhat, quite or extremely concerned about these top issues:
    • 70% of people were concerned about their fellow park visitors being underprepared for winter conditions.
    • 64% of people were concerned about limited enforcement of public health and park rules.
    • 60% of people were concerned about search and rescue teams becoming too busy.
  • More education and information are key to success: Among the top recommendations to improve safety are more staff in parks, better signage and more education to the general public about conditions, risks and proper gear.

Winter brings shorter days, avalanche risk, as well as cold and quickly changing temperatures, which means that recreation comes with considerably more risk to unprepared visitors than summer adventures. 

Ball continues, “long term lack of funding of our parks has left them ill-equipped to handle crowds at the best of times. It is critical that we get more staff into parks to promote safety and make sure visitor infrastructure is in place, and avoid putting more pressure on volunteer search and rescue teams.”

This survey was conducted online between December 2 and 6. Responses were collected from 1058 British Columbians, with a 95% confidence level and a margin of error of plus or minus (±) 3%.

CPAWS-BC continues to advocate for increased funding to improve the management and increase staffing essential to a robust and healthy provincial park system.

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For interviews, contact:
Tori Ball, Terrestrial Campaigner, CPAWS-BC
(604) 685-7445 x24



The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land, ocean, and freshwater, and ensuring our parks and protected areas are managed to protect nature. Since 1963, CPAWS has played a leading role in protecting over half a million square kilometers. Our vision is to protect at least half of Canada’s public land and water in a framework of reconciliation – for the benefit of wildlife and people.

The CPAWS British Columbia chapter (CPAWS-BC) works to protect wilderness in every corner of BC and deep into the ocean. We have been defending BC since 1978, and are dedicated to keeping BC’s natural environment thriving forever. Nature is BC’s best hope. Visit: | Follow: @CPAWSbc