The Thurston Meadows recreational site near Chilliwack is set to have 30 new campsites for the 2020 season, according to the release from the provincial government. (Thurston Meadows)

Campsite booking for B.C. Parks started Monday morning despite a bumpy ride

New campsites added to the provincial system including some at Thurston Meadows near Chilliwack

New campsites have been added to provincial network across B.C. for the 2020 season — including 30 new sites at Thurston Meadows recreation site in the Chilliwack River Valley.

Monday marked the day the B.C. Parks camping reservation system, Discovery Camping, came back online but it was reportedly slow going as a flood of people tried to reserve.

READ MORE: Reservations flooding in and reservation site timing out

Regardless of any startup glitches, British Columbians planning to camp at provincial parks, provincial campgrounds and recreation sites and more, will book through the Discovery Camping site, as facilities are set to open June 1.

“Spending time appreciating nature is one of the best things we can do for our health and well-being,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Camping provides the ideal opportunity to connect safely with family and friends in BC Parks beauty.

New reservations are being restricted to B.C. residents only, two months in advance of their arrival date instead of four – a temporary measure to spread out the demand during the busy summer months.

“We want to ensure British Columbians have access to summer vacation opportunities close to home, so we are limiting new reservations to B.C. residents. Our plan is to safely open as many parks as possible so that B.C. campers and day visitors can rediscover the wilderness beauty close to home,” Heyman said.

Opening campgrounds safely to support public health guidelines means it will not be business as usual in some campgrounds. To allow physical distancing, fewer sites will be available in some campgrounds, there may be some changes to services and communal facilities, and some campgrounds will open at a later date. Hot springs, backcountry communal cabins and campgrounds that require visitors to use shared cooking facilities will remain temporarily closed, along with group campsites.

“COVID-19 changed a lot of our travel plans this summer, but camping locally in BC Parks or recreation sites might be the break you need,” said Joss Penny, chair of the Camping and RVing Coalition BC. “I welcome the news of 180 new campsites in provincial parks and recreation sites to boost capacity and to help ease some of the pressure of locating places to stay in high-demand locations.”

As part of the ongoing campsite expansion program, the province has also added 180 new campsites to BC Parks and recreation sites, like the ones in Chilliwack River Valley. Since 2017, more than 1,200 campsites have been added.

Most existing reservations for dates after June 1 will be honoured, so campsites in popular campgrounds may already be booked. Some reservations may need to be cancelled due to reduced capacity at certain campgrounds. Those who are impacted will be advised of their cancelled bookings over the coming weeks. A list of changes to campgrounds will be posted on the BC Parks website.

On June 1, additional parks will reopen for day-use activities. Playgrounds, halls and picnic shelters remain closed in all provincial parks. The remaining parks that attract the largest crowds will only reopen when it is safe to do so, taking into consideration the safety of visitors and staff, impact on nearby communities and the protection of the environment.

For BC Parks closures, see: http://bcparks.ca/

For updates on Recreation Sites and Trails BC, visit: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/

To reserve a BC Parks campsite: https://www.discovercamping.ca/bccw

READ MORE: Only B.C. residents allowed to camp

READ MORE: Provincial parks were closed in March


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
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