Recall our blog about how hard it is to find a campsite in BC at peak times? This week marks the start of some related changes to Discover Camping, BC’s Provincial Campground reservation system. These changes will impact the Front Country Campgrounds in several ways but how successful these changes are is yet to be determined. Here is a summary:
- Changes made to prevent “overbooking”: This happens when campers make a reservation to include nights ahead of their planned arrival date (e.g. booking a site for 5 days ahead of a long weekend) to take advantage of the ‘book 90 days ahead’ process. They later cancel the unwanted dates with no substantial penalty. BC Parks has eliminated the ability to make changes to one’s arrival date. In order to change your arrival you will need to cancel your booking and make a new reservation. Cancelled inventory will be released the next day at 7 am and will be available to all customers.
- My Take: this should level the playing field for the peak times and there is really no down side.
- Changes to preventing people from reselling or transferring reservations: There were endless stories of campsites being resold by third party “scalpers”. The new policy requires customers to register one or two permit holder names at the time of reserving and at least one of the permit holders must be present during the stay.
- My Take: There has always been a policy in place that the person named on the reservation must be in attendance but personally I have never been asked for ID while checking in for a campground reservation. This will only be effective if enforced!
- Changes to shorten the maximum length of stay: BC Parks is trying a pilot project in select parks to shorten the maximum length of stay to seven days during the peak camping season to create more camping opportunities.
- My take: this is a great idea but I find it interesting which parks they have selected. For example, Haynes Point is not one of them and is without question the most difficult park to get into.
- Changes to the Campground Reservation Window: Campers will now be able to reserve a campground 4 months in advance with the reservation window being open all year. This gives people an extra month to work with and the system will no longer be flooded with bookings on the March 15th opening day.
- My Take: This is a great change and should be very successful.
- Changes to the number of reservable sites: Discover camping has added Skagit Valley (near Hope), Mount Robson – Lucerne Campground (near Valemount), Garibaldi Park (near Vancouver) Helm, Cheakamus and Singing Creek as well as more campsites at Gold Creek and Alouette Lake to the reservation system.
- My take: In theory this is a good idea but it will reduce the chance of spontaneously camping on a sunny weekend even more.
- Changes to the number of campsite: The website states that they will be spending $23 million over the next five years to add 1,900 new campsites.
- My take: This is a great plan and long overdue. I cant remember when a new campground was added so any additional spots is welcome.
My overall impression is favorable. Thanks, BC Parks. Let’s see how much difference these changes make this year. The only major change I would still like to see in the future would be more services. In the last few years BC Parks has tested electricity to some site. This has been a welcome addition by reducing some of the generator noise that has become common place in Provincial Campground. Most campers are happy to pay for this extra convenience and it would be a welcome improvement.
Happy Camping in 2017