B.C. changes reservation system for campgrounds

Starting in 2017, provincial campsites can be booked four months in advance

Some BC campgrounds are so popular that people have scalped campsites on Craigslist.

November may be just a wee bit early to start thinking about making campground reservations for 2017, but the B.C. government is planning to change the reservation system to address problems with overcrowding and block booking of campgrounds.

Starting in 2017, campers will be able to start making reservations four months in advance, rather than three months. The government is also tightening up its Discover Camping reservation system to crack down on over booking and reselling of campsites.

The government will also start limiting campground stays in some provincial campgrounds to seven days.

The changes are aimed at addressing some of the complaints the B.C. government got last year about overbooked campgrounds.

“We know British Columbians want a reservation system that is fair, and that they have just as good a chance of securing a campsite as the next person,” said B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak.

“The changes we're bringing in for 2017 address policies that are prone to abuse by a small number of people and contribute to positive camping experiences
in our beautiful BC Parks."

Reservable sites for some of B.C.’s most popular campgrounds – like Cultus Lake and Rathrevor Beach – are often snapped up as soon as they become available online for reservation.

Earlier this year, concerns were raised that private tourism operators had been block booking some sites. There were even reports of campsites being sold on Craigslist at outrageous prices.

As detailed in a story earlier this year in Business in Vancouver, BC Parks has built only 200 new campsites in the last five years – not nearly enough to satisfy public demand, and a number of private campgrounds have shut down.

Of the 10,700 campsites in the provincial campground system, 55% are reservable; the rest are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

nbennett@biv.com