Bigger investment needed to restore BC Parks after decade of decay
VANCOUVER – BC Premier Christy Clark announced today that her government will remove unpopular parking meters from BC parks and provide $500,000 for a one-time Community Legacy Fund, to be disbursed by environmental organizations working on parks.
“While we’re happy at long last to see the removal of the much hated parking meters, BC parks have suffered from a decade of decay and what they really need is proper funding and staffing,” said Gwen Barlee, Policy Director of the Wilderness Committee. “What is ironic is that the BC government cut the BC Park budget by $644,000 this year and now they are announcing an investment of $500,000 – which still leaves parks further behind.”
Government documents obtained through FOI have shown that the unpopular meters drove away hundreds of thousands of park visitors and dramatically missed revenue targets.
“While the removal of the parking meters is a step in the right direction much more needs to be done if the government is serious about protecting our park system. Essentially they axed an initiative that was unpopular, wasn’t working and wasn’t generating any real income for BC Parks — this province and its special wild places deserve so much better,” said Barlee.
The management of BC parks has been a hot potato for the provincial government. A series of unpopular measures have been introduced over the last decade including: installing parking meters in 41 popular parks, weakening the Parks Act, changing park boundaries to allow for industrial development, cutting the operating budget, reducing park rangers by over 50 per cent, and axing government-funded park interpretive programs. Since 1999 visits to BC parks have dropped by over 20 per cent, a decline not seen in neighbouring jurisdictions.
Gwen Barlee, Policy Director Wilderness Committee, 604-202-0322 (c ) or 604-683-8220 (w)
BC’s Provincial Parks