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, and 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.
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. 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.