The Province will increase and strengthen conservation in its world-renowned parks with a new investment of $35 million over the next three years.
The funding will result in approximately 25 more full-time park rangers, new programs to promote and protect the natural environment, as well as an initial endowment for a new BC Parks Foundation.
$25 million will go directly to BC Parks operations allowing for new park rangers throughout the province, with a focus on protecting and preserving the backcountry. The increase in full -time rangers is in addition to the seasonal ranger program where 87 temporary positions are filled during the peak demand season. Park ranger duties vary from maintaining trails and campsites, to monitoring wildlife habitats and species at risk, to ensuring guests are aware of risks posed by dangerous animals such as bears and cougars.
The remaining $10 million will be an initial endowment to the new BC Parks Foundation. The Foundation will help generate private revenue, to be spent on promoting and enhancing the experience in BC Parks.
Other conservation initiatives arising from increased operations funding will include:
- A Discover BC Parks program where the public can be engaged through interactive mobile learning spaces, mobile apps, online activities and projects for children, and volunteer-led outreach programs.
- Opening parks to universities and climate-related agencies as living laboratories, to measure and monitor the impact of climate change on ecosystems and wildlife. This, in turn, will help ensure provincial policies and programs are making a difference.
- Enhancing community and volunteer involvement through new community liaison rangers, who will establish relationships and partnerships throughout the province with local governments, community groups, businesses, advocacy organizations, school groups, and the public at large.
BC Parks would also like to invite First Nations communities and Aboriginal groups to express their culture and heritage through BC Parks, and in so doing share their perspectives on nature and history to the broader community. Parks and recreational facilities can serve as the stage to help promote Indigenous culture, to honour First Nations history and the spiritual importance of their ancestral lands.
The increased budget is part of the BC Parks Future Strategy, announced by Premier Christy Clark on Nov. 28, 2016. In addition to the budget increase the Province is investing $22.9 million to build 1,900 new campsites in provincial parks and recreation sites, incorporating accessible design standards and, most recently, launched a series of licence plates depicting scenes from B.C.’s parks and recreation areas.
Mary Polak, Minister of Environment –
“The investments we’re making in BC Parks will help us to preserve and strengthen the spectacular, natural environment we’re so fortunate to have right in our own backyard. It’s an investment not only for British Columbians, but indeed for the entire world.”
Eddie Wood, president, BC Society of Park Operators –
"We are pleased to hear that this funding will, in part, result in more park ranger staff available for the backcountry. With the exponential growth of hikers using the backcountry, there has been a noticeable void in ranger presence. While park operators work hard successfully managing and maintaining frontcountry campgrounds and day use areas, it is great news to see an improved approach to managing and maintaining the backcountry."
Jim Glaicar, president, B.C. Wildlife Federation –
“We are encouraged by the immediate investment in the BC Parks Foundation and the three year funding commitment for conserving the diversity of fish, wildlife and their habitats in BC Parks. This is a major step towards a sustainable funding model for the system.”
Colin Campbell, vice president, Elders Council for Parks in British Columbia –
“The Elders Council for Parks in BC, recognizes that today's funding announcement for parks to be historic. Strong provincial government leadership combined with First Nations and community support from around B.C. can create new opportunities for public appreciation and enjoyment and provide the base for long-term, sound ecological management of our world-class provincial parks system.”
Scott Benton, executive director, Wilderness Tourism Association of BC –
“The Wilderness Tourism Association of BC endorses the B.C. government’s commitment to re-invest in our provincial parks. The proposed increases in park rangers, community liaison positions and parks foundation will make significant improvements in the stewardship of our parks.”
George Creek, president, BC Marine Parks Forever Society –
“Recreational boating is a significant contributor to the B.C. economy, and so I am now encouraged and hopeful that the marine park system will receive attention and funding for improvements and enhancements.”
- B.C.’s provincial parks receive more than 23 million visits each year.
- BC Parks manages the third-largest parks system in North America behind the United States’ National Park Service and Parks Canada.
- British Columbia has the highest percentage of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all provincial Canadian jurisdictions.
- B.C. offers a range of camping experiences in provincial parks as well as recreation sites.
- There are approximately 10,700 vehicle accessible campsites in 270 BC Parks frontcountry campgrounds and approximately 2,000 backcountry campsites.
- Parking is free in all provincial parks, making them more accessible to families.
- Over the past five years, the Province has invested approximately $60 million in park facilities, delivering projects directed at attracting young families, offering new recreation opportunities and increasing attendance.
To learn more about BC Parks, and to view the BC Parks Future Strategy, please visit: www.bcparks.ca
To learn more about ICBC and where to purchase your own BC Parks licence plate, please visit: www.icbc.com/bcparksplates
To learn more about changes to the Discover Camping reservation service to improve fair access for everyone, please visit: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/reserve/