For the past few years visitors have had to pay for parking in some BC parks, but no more.
The pay parking program was rescinded by the Liberal government this week, ushering in the return of free parking in some of British Columbia's favourite places.
I see it as one less hassle, one less barrier, to the enjoyment of our parks. Especially some of my favourite local south island big tree hangouts such as Sooke Potholes, Goldstream, French Beach, and Juan de Fuca. You can check out more parks here.
Cutting parking fees will not affect parks funding, most likely because the whole idea was a fiasco from the ill-conceived start. Pay parking was highly unpopular with the public. The meter boxes, often in remote locations, were repeatedly vandalized. Enforcement was a problem as well, again due to the scattered, remote locations. The program likely made little to no money.
"The result of a decade of neglect is declining attendance. Park visits have dropped by 25 per cent since 1999 -a decline not seen in B.C.'s national parks. Parking meters installed in 42 popular parks have driven away millions of visitors." - Wilderness Committee
The government may not want visitors to see the lack of interpretive programs for school groups and park visitors. They were cut early on, denying critical educational opportunities these programs offered. They don't want visitors to see the lack of staff to prevent things like poaching. And not just for big game, like Big horn sheep.
|Sumallo Grove, Manning Provincial Park|
This old growth forest has the most impressive trees in all of Manning park, and is also distinguished as being the farthest eastern reach of the coastal rain forest in British Columbia. The three large cedar stumps can be seen as you pull into the parking lot.
Since 1996, parks funding has been reduced by 20%, in spite of the system being larger today. I hope free parking is the beginning of our government's return to honouring its commitment to our environment, and parks, and its responsibility to citizens.
Enjoy the parks and the free parking, then ask Premier Clark why this year's budget slashed another $650,000 as a gift for the 100th Anniversary of provincial parks in BC.