Monday May 2, 2011
An Idea Whose Time Has Expired
Provincial park pay parking is now a thing of the past
C Parks turns 100 this year and as part of the centennial celebrations, the provincial government announced today they have removed pay parking from all provincial parks effective immediately.
By getting rid of pay parking the government is hoping to encourage more people to visit the parks more often. The move also helps to remove financial barriers for low-income families and individuals. Overnight hikers often park at a trail head and leave their vehicle overnight can now do so without having to pay.
The issue has been a sore spot with many in the community who visit provincial parks on a regular basis and faced having to fork over $5-10 every time they drove their cars to the parks.
"That's a great idea," said Chilliwack resident and father Dale Mitchell in an e-mail to The Voice. "We go up to Cultus Lake 2 or 3 times a week in the summer with the kids and will now save about $60 a month, that pays for the gas, so we'll definitely be going more often."
Premier Christy Clark and Environment Minister Terry Lake want to inspire people to become more active.
“The parking meters are coming out and parking will be free, effective immediately, so that British Columbia’s parks are even more welcoming for families,” said Premier Clark. “Our parks not only contribute to a healthy lifestyle and protect our environment, they are important to our economy. More park visitors mean more tourism dollars and more jobs for rural British Columbians and we want to eliminate any barriers to using the parks.”
Parks nearby Chilliwack that will be affected are; Chilliwack Lake, Cultus Lake, Kilby, Sasquatch, Manning, Emory Creek and Coquihalla Canyon.
According to the news release, the Province also announced a $500,000 Community Legacy Program to support communities while they celebrate the BC Parks centennial this year. The funding will be used to improve parks across the province. Community groups can apply for up to $20,000 for projects such as trail enhancements, improvements that support recreational activities or conservation of a park’s ecology or cultural history.
“BC Parks are a part of who we are,” said Lake. “They help define us as British Columbians, and show that we care deeply about our environment and our planet. The new legacy fund looks to the future and the improvements we can continue to make, and it looks to the past 100 years by recognizing that community groups have played a key role in making the parks and protected areas system what it is today.”
There will be a number of promotions throughout the year including photo sharing or stories from a BC Parks adventure at www.facebook.com/YourBCParks and then go to www.bcparks.ca to submit their name for a random draw of a BC Parks birthday pack to make your next park visit more enjoyable.
The Past 100 Years
Established on March 1, 1911, Strathcona Provincial Park, in the centre of Vancouver Island, was British Columbia’s first provincial park.
Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, was climbed for the very first time in 1913 – the same year it was established as the second provincial park.
In the past decade, the B.C. government has established 65 new parks, 144 conservancies, two ecological reserves and nine protected areas. More than 60 parks and six ecological reserves have been expanded. In total, these additions protect more than 1.9 million hectares of additional land.
In the spring of 2010, the BC Parks system was again expanded by more than 27,000 hectares. Seven new provincial parks and one new conservancy were established and land was added to 12 existing parks.
BC Parks manages almost 1,000 provincial parks and protected areas covering approximately 13.6 per cent of B.C. – more than 13.1 million hectares or 131,000 square kilometres. It’s the third largest protected areas system in North America, after the Canadian and American national park systems.
About 20 million people visit British Columbia’s provincial parks each year.
There are about 6,900 kilometres of trails in the BC Parks system. That’s longer than the Canada-U.S. border, which is approximately 6,400 kilometres.
Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is the largest, spanning 989,616 hectares. Memory Island Provincial Park on Vancouver Island is the smallest at less than one hectare.
The Kitlope Heritage Conservancy protects the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world.
The 440-metre high Della Falls in Strathcona Provincial Park is Canada's highest waterfall and one of the 10 highest in the world.
Every fall, the world's most productive sockeye salmon run can be seen at Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park.
British Columbia’s parks are vital to protecting species-at-risk and important habitats, assisting the movement of species resulting from climate change, sequestering carbon and protecting water and watersheds.
The 947,026-hectare Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park is a World Heritage Site. Together with adjacent protected areas in Alaska and the Yukon, it forms the world's largest international World Heritage Site.
Khutzeymateen Provincial Park is Canada's only grizzly bear sanctuary and is home to the highest known concentration of grizzlies along the British Columbia coast.
British Columbia has the highest percentage of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all Canadian provinces. Combined with the national parks system, 14.27 per cent, or more than 13.5 million hectares, of British Columbia’s land base is protected. That is an area equal in size to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. combined.
The vast majority of land in the BC Parks system – 98 per cent – remains predominantly free from human alteration.
The BC Progress Board’s Benchmark Reports for 2009 and 2010 ranked B.C. first in Canada on environmental quality and on protected areas
British Columbia’s provincial parks offer campsites, day-use areas and thousands of kilometres of trails as fun, convenient and low-cost ways to explore the province.
There were over 19 million visits to our parks in 2009, increasing to more than 20 million during the past year. Reserve your camping adventure through Discover Camping at www.discovercamping.ca or through the call centre at 1 800 689-9025.
There are more than 340 campgrounds, 118 boat launches and 263 day-use areas in B.C.'s provincial parks system.
British Columbia’s parks have hosted the world’s best athletes. During the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Cypress Provincial Park played host to the freestyle skiing and snowboard events. In March 2011, Silver Star Provincial Park hosted the Sparkling Hills Masters World Cup 2011 cross-country ski championships.
Projects to mark the centennial include
High tech meets the great outdoors with a smart phone-friendly web portal for Discover Camping that allows campers to make or change a reservation for a provincial park camping spot while they are on the road. For more information, go to: https://secure.camis.com/Discovercamping
BC Parks and GeoBC have created an online tool linking people with a variety of info about BC Parks. For example, with the new Google Mashup Tool, park fans can use Google Maps to get directions to a park, view all the protected areas in the province at once or link directly to each park’s web page. Click the Find a Park by Location feature at: www.bcparks.ca
MEC 100 Years of Adventure, a partnership between Mountain Equipment Co-op and BC Parks, will see ten adventure-themed events held to celebrate parks as a playground for outdoor adventure. The calendar of events is available at: www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/events/100Adventure
For More Info
The BC Parks 100 website: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks
The BC Parks 100 event calendar lists celebrations happening across B.C. all year long: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/events/calendar/#eventList
BC Parks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/YourBCParks
© Copyright (c) 2011 The Valley Voice