Province spending $21 million on campgrounds, trails after record-breaking year

The province will invest $21.5 million for new campsites and upgrades to trails and facilities after a record number of users over the past year.

The Environment Ministry said more than 3.1 million campers stayed in provincial parks during the 2021 season, and more than 260,000 reservations were made on Discover Camping — both the highest volumes on record.

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“This year has been another exceptionally busy season for B.C. Parks,” Environment Minister George Heyman said in a statement. “Caring for and expanding B.C. Parks is an investment in a healthy future.”

The investment is part of an $83-million budget increase to the B.C. Parks operating and capital budgets.

At least two Island parks will see improvements.

• Miracle Beach near Campbell River will get trail enhancements, including a new bicycle flow track and accessibility upgrades.

• At Rathtrevor near Parksville, one of the province’s busiest parks, work is planned to improve accessibility for day-use trails.

Other projects include

• Cypress Provincial Park: improve facilities within the park, including refurbished trails and better back-country 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

• 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

Campground expansion is also planned. The ministry said it is consulting with First Nations and conducting environmental and archaeological assessments before moving forward with the projects.

Kelly Greene, parliamentary secretary for the environment ministry, said the government is working in partnership with First Nations to reflect Indigenous history and culture in provincial parks and “deepen our understanding of connection to the land.”

In addition, $2 million in new infrastructure maintenance funding will be invested in all regions on high-use trail and facility improvement projects.

B.C. Parks is also investing an additional $5 million for land acquisitions.

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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