Scenic Jewel Lake Provincial Park in Kootenay Boundary is open for camping starting June 1 - no reservation required. Jim Bailey photo.

BC Parks: reservation frustration on opening day

Campers face online issues trying to book reservations at BC Parks on opening day

It seemed like such a good idea, open up camping reservations in prime BC Parks to only BC residents.

But when the province’s Discover Camping booking site opened at 7 a.m. on Monday morning, it created more frustration than it did reservations.

Would-be campers shared those futile efforts on social media after trying to book campsites through the website.

One Twitter user said, “I need a vacation from trying to book a vacation.”

Another, “BC’s Discover Camping reservation system is failing hard right now. Had a plan, got up early, logged in and spent more than an hour hitting website error after error after error and still haven’t been able to make a single booking. Boo! .”

And …

“I’m not sure what BC Parks was expecting when when they told the entire province, all outdoor-hungry and cabin-fevered, to descend onto their website all at the same time…”

Minister of Environment George Heyman says the site didn’t necessarily ‘crash’, but the queue was extensive with more than 7,000 reservations made Monday morning, when the province opened reservations in advance of campgrounds opening on June 1.

“There is lots of inventory remaining and we are working hard to ensure BC residents can book as quickly as possible,” Heyman said.

“I appreciate people’s patience, and am glad to see so many people excited to enjoy BC Parks this summer. Our plan is to safely open as many parks as possible so that BC campers and day visitors can rediscover the wilderness beauty close to home.”

BC Parks were closed early April and all reservations cancelled up until May 31 due to the pandemic. The province began reopening camping starting June 1 with several restrictions and protocol in place.

Campers can only reserve sites two months in advance and the parks website said that “to ensure physical distancing, you may notice some changes in campgrounds, including additional spacing between campsites and limitations on the number of guests in campgrounds.

“Access to campsites is limited to B.C. residents for the entire 2020 season but not all sites will open and some will open with reduced capacity.

“Non-B.C. residents with a previous reservation can contact the BC Parks call centre for a refund before June 15. Non-B.C. residents who try to make a reservation after May 25 will have their booking cancelled.”

Heyman also added that 45 per cent of BC Parks are on a first-come first-serve basis and do not take reservations.

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