Funding parks is important for social and environmental reasons, but it also makes business sense.
Research shows that for every tax dollar invested in provincial and national parks, visitors generate $10 in economic activity.
It’s simple. When people visit parks, they spend money at grocery stores, gas stations, brewpubs, cafes, hotels and in many other ways that support rural communities and economies.
BC has one of the largest park systems in North America, with more than 1,000 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves, and protected areas covering approximately 14.4% of the provincial land base.
However, funding hasn’t kept pace with park use, which is growing fast. From 2014 to 2019, BC Parks experienced a 23 percent increase in use throughout the province with more than 23 million visits.
The pandemic has put an exclamation mark on the importance of outdoor recreation and access to parks. Last year was a record-breaker that saw more than 270,000 outdoor enthusiasts making camping reservations.
After years of underfunding, park supporters welcomed the provincial budget announcement of more money for park maintenance, operations, and campsite construction. Over the next three years, the combined operating and capital budgets of BC Parks will increase by more than $83 million.
According to the Ministry of Environment, this investment is targeted primarily for expanded trails, strengthened park system management, and new campsites. This season, BC Parks will add approximately 185 sites.
“It’s absolutely clear how deeply people care about our provincial parks,” said BC Environment Minister George Heyman, in a government press release. “The pandemic has brought more people than ever to visit BC Parks…”
At the same time, Recreation Sites and Trails BC is also investing in a vast network of recreation sites and trails across BC. For the summer of 2021, 17 crews will be busy in all corners of the province doing much-needed maintenance on recreation infrastructure.
That’s all good news for nature lovers in BC.