'Not like a Rihanna concert': MLA blasts B.C. over campsite scalpers
Published Wednesday, July 6, 2016 6:40PM PDT
A Vancouver Island MLA says he has the solution to a controversy that has frustrated British Columbians clamouring for a camping spot this summer.
Several reports of travel companies and scalpers snatching up prime lots in provincial parks and reselling them for a profit has caught the attention of Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA and B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.
He said the practice of reselling campsite reservations to tourists has caused some popular campgrounds to sell out in a matter of minutes.
Weaver is now calling on the government to end the practice by letting B.C. residents get the first crack at the campsite reservation system.
“The minister said it was like a Rihanna concert: You’ve gotta get in line, get those tickets right away or they’ll sell out,” said Weaver. “Well this is not like a Rihanna concert, because the difference between our parks and Rihanna is that the public doesn’t own Rihanna.”
But Environment Minister Mary Polak, who is in charge of the province’s 5,600 reservable campsites, argued British Columbians already account for three-quarters of this year’s bookings.
She said the bigger issue is a growing demand for the relatively small number of sites.
“The amount that are coming from tour operators, that’s less than one per cent of our reservations,” she said. “The real challenge is just that we have very, very few campsites available.”
Also frustrating campers is a situation like the one spotted at Goldstream Provincial Park Campground on Wednesday.
Two side-by-side lots at the campsite were seen with reserved signs, but neighbours said they have sat unused for days.
While a smattering of online ads can still be found for provincial campsites, Polak said the government has tools available to curb reselling.
“If we find that someone is reselling, and especially if they’re reselling at a profit, we cancel their reservation and we can even ban them,” she said.
The province said it plans to review the reservation system like it does every year at the end of the camping season.
For now, campers are encouraged to book well in advance for the rest of the summer – if it’s not already too late.