By Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun January 22, 2015
VICTORIA — It will cost more to camp in a provincial park this spring, after fee hikes unveiled by the government Thursday.
The nightly rate at many of B.C.’s provincial park campgrounds will increase between $2 and $5, starting March 15 when the online reservation system opens, said Environment Minister Mary Polak.
“We’re providing a quality service,” she said. “The investment is going into the parks.”
Of B.C.’s 204 provincial campgrounds, the price rises $2 at 141, and between $3 and $5 at 50, according to Polak’s ministry.
“Our rates still compare very well with private sector campgrounds, in most areas they are cheaper,” she said.
Prices had already increased in 2003, 2008 and 2010.
The cost of a night at Golden Ears Park in Maple Ridge, one of the closest campgrounds to Vancouver, has risen almost 89 per cent in the past 14 years, from a rate of $18.50 in 2001 to $35 a night starting in March.
There are also reservation fees and costs for additional vehicles in campgrounds. However, the government said it intends to keep free parking at the campsites — a promise of Premier Christy Clark after she took power in 2011.
The price hike will generate $1.3 million for B.C.’s park system. All of that will be put into the system and some might be used to buy more park land, said Polak.
The government spent $13 million last year on maintenance, construction and improvement of park facilities — a 6.5 per cent drop from the previous year even though park use rose 2.4 per cent.
The extra fees will hurt families who turn to provincial parks for an affordable vacation, said NDP environment critic Spencer Chandra Herbert.
“Clearly our parks need better maintenance,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what park I go to, I see signs falling down, in some cases broken boardwalks and doors falling off outhouses. So that need is there. And the need for the funds are there.
“My concern is we saw an increase in 2010 in fees, and when you talk to park users they didn’t notice any real change in maintenance.”