Climbing in Bugaboo Provincial Park in 2019 (File) British Columbia.

Only British Columbians allowed to camp in provincial parks this summer amid COVID-19

The residency restriction matches similar initiatives by Alta. and Sask.

Camping in provincial parks will be open to only B.C residents this summer, the provincial ministry of environment has announced.

People with previous bookings received an email this morning, informing them that non-B.C. residents with existing reservations should call before June 15 to cancel and get a refund. The email stated that any new reservations made after May 25 by non-B.C. residents will be subject to immediate cancellation without a refund.

This move aligns B.C. with other provinces.

In May, the Alberta government said it would reopen provincial park campsites in June; however, they would be for Alberta residents only, and existing reservations made by out-of-province campers would be cancelled. Occupancy would also be reduced by 50 per cent and no campfires would be permitted.

Saskatchewan also instituted a similar policy, opening provincial campgrounds to local residents only.

MLA Tom Shypitka for Kootenay East praised the move.

“Hard work and persistence have paid off,” he posted on Facebook, indicating he has been lobbying for B.C. Parks to open to provincial residents only.

“I am happy to share the news that your voices have been heard!” he wrote.

In a press conference on Thursday (May 21) B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, was unaware of the ban. However, Minister of Health Adrian Dix said the move was made to control overnight travel.

B.C. Recreation Sites and Trails opened all rec sites across the province on May 14 for day use. Camping will be permitted starting June 1, but subject to COVID-19 health and safety measures.

ALSO READ: From BBQs to camping trips, here’s how to keep food safe in the summer heat

The federal government announced on May 14 that Parks Canada will take a phased approach to opening national parks and heritage sites.

Some trails, day use areas, green spaces and recreational boating will be permitted after June 1. But the federal government said camping in national parks will not be allowed until at least June 21.

For B.C. parks, group sites will be closed until December.

The Discover Camping website and call centre will reopen on May 25 at 7 a.m. to accept campground reservations for the summer. Provincial campsites will begin to open June 1.


 

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