The province will invest $21.5 million over the next three years to expand and enhance the provincial parks system, including new campsites, trails and upgrades to facilities.
The investment is part of an $83 million budget increase to the BC Parks operating and capital budgets, combined, to strengthen management of the parks system and improve visitor experience, according to a media release from the provincial government.
Over 3.1 million campers stayed in provincial parks during the 2021 camping season and over 260,000 reservations were made, marking the highest volume on record, the province said.
“This year has been another exceptionally busy season for BC Parks with more people than ever seeking the benefits to their health and well-being that nature and open spaces provide,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “Caring for and expanding BC Parks is an investment in a healthy future. These new projects provide even more people with the opportunity to explore and experience British Columbia’s spectacular beauty and retain the vitally important connection to nature.”
The planned projects include improved accessibility for day-use trails in Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, according to the province.
Other projects planned are:
-Cypress Provincial Park: improve facilities within the park, including refurbished trails and better backcountry access.
-Garibaldi Provincial Park: develop the loop trail linking Singing Pass to Blackcomb Mountain.
-Golden Ears Provincial Park: parking lot expansion.
-Stawamus Chief Provincial Park: improve existing trails and develop new trails, provide additional parking.
-Cultus Lake: develop the Watt Creek parking lot to improve access to Teapot Hill Trail.
-Miracle Beach Provincial Park: trail enhancements, including a new bicycle flow track and accessibility upgrades.
-Sun-Oka Provincial Park: reconstruct paved trails within the park to improve accessibility.
-Babine Mountains Provincial Park: upgrade and reroute existing trails and build new trails.
-Lakelse Lake Provincial Park: improve accessibility to the Twin Spruce Trail and the Furlong Bay Campground.
The province said it will consult with First Nations governments and conduct environmental and archeological assessments before moving forward with the projects.
In addition to the proposed projects, $2 million in new infrastructure maintenance funding will be invested in all regions of the province on high-use trail and facility improvement projects.
“We are taking strides to ensure our parks are inclusive and welcome for all,” said Kelly Greene, parliamentary secretary for environment. “As well as our plans for more campsites, improved trails and better accessibility, we are working in partnership with First Nations to reflect Indigenous history and culture in our provincial parks and deepen our understanding of connection to the land.”
To further expand opportunities for outdoor recreation, BC Parks is investing an additional $5 million per year for land acquisitions. The province regularly adds land to the parks and protected areas system through the acquisition of private land and partnerships with conservation groups, individual donors, the BC Parks Foundation and supporters.