Polak says parks system is fair

The vast majority of campsite reservations are by British Columbians and no one is given preferential treatment, says minister Mary Polak.

Dear Sir:

Re: Freddy Marks’ July 27  letter to the editor on  BC Parks. BC Parks does offer spectacular wilderness close to home, and this means there are simply too many people chasing too few campsites. The challenge is that there are fewer than 6,000 reservable campsites in B.C. However, I’d like to clear up some misconceptions for your readers.

Commercial operators, including tour companies, make up less than one per cent of the bookings on the Discover Camping reservation system. For the most part, these companies book short stays of two days or less, with the majority occurring Sunday through Thursday.

It’s important to note the vast majority of people camping in our provincial parks are from British Columbia – roughly three-quarters of all reservations are made by British Columbians.

Everyone is given access to the reservable campsite inventory at the same time. No one is given preferential treatment to reserve campsites, and the system does not allow block campsite reservations.

While our main challenge centres around supply and demand, we take any allegations of unfair reservation practices very seriously.

Of the more than 138,000 reservations made so far this year, BC Parks is aware of approximately only 30 incidents of people attempting to resell reservations. We followed up on all of those to make sure all ads have been removed, or reservations cancelled.

We continue to explore ways to improve the reservation system. All options will be carefully considered to ensure we don’t negatively impact the majority of our users, while trying to solve a problem that is only being abused by a handful of reservation holders.

Mary Polak, Minister of Environment,

Victoria, B.C.