BC Parks website crashes as camping reservations open
VICTORIA -- The BC Parks campsite reservation system, Discover Camping, went live online Monday morning and quickly led to technical issues, as many British Columbians rushed to book summer campsites.
The technical challenges led to confusion and frustration for many British Columbians who were eager to get their summer plans in order.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., Environment Minister George Heyman said in a Tweet that over 27,000 camping reservations had been made Monday morning, or approximately 10 reservations per second.
The environment minister thanked British Columbians’ for their patience on the reservation system’s opening day.
Due to high demand, the Discover Camping website is only allowing reservations for up to two months in advance. On May 25, campsites could only be booked up to July 25. On May 26, reservations can be made up to July 26 and so on.
Usually, campsite reservations can be made up to four months in advance. However, this year reservations have been reduced to two months in advance to help spread out demand, according to the B.C. government.
Meanwhile, some parks may have a reduced number of campsites available in order to ensure physical distancing guidelines are being followed.
For B.C. residents who already reserved campsites for this summer, the province says that most reservations for after June 1 will still be honoured, meaning some popular campsites may already be fully booked.
In fact, some of these early reservations may have to be cancelled due to reduced overall campsite capacity for physical distancing.
Meanwhile, to discourage non-essential travel, B.C. campsites can only be reserved by British Columbia residents.
“We want to ensure British Columbians have access to summer vacation opportunities close to home, so we are limiting new reservations to B.C. residents,” said Heyman in a statement Monday.
“Our plan is to safely open as many parks as possible so that B.C. campers and day visitors can rediscover the wilderness beauty close to home.”
Any non-B.C. resident who has already reserved a campsite can apply for a full refund by contacting the BC Parks call centre before June 15.
However, any non-B.C. resident who books a campsite starting Monday may face immediate cancellation without a refund.
Anyone who has had their reservations affected by COVID-19 will be notified within the next several weeks, says to the province.
While reservations have opened up in provincial parks, all playgrounds, picnic shelters and halls remain closed until further notice.
“The remaining parks that attract the largest crowds will only reopen when it is safe to do so,” said the B.C. government Monday.
While visiting provincial parks, guests are asked to continue following provincial health guidelines, like physical distancing and regular handwashing.
“If a park is too busy and physical distancing cannot be maintained, visitors using parks for day-use activities are asked to find another outdoor space to enjoy close to home,” said the province.
Several provincial parks reopened for day-use when B.C. entered the second phase of its restart plan earlier this month. Starting June 1, more provincial parks will reopen for day-use.
To reserve a provincial campsite, visit Discover Camping online here.