Camping in B.C.: Site reservations open for 2 months ahead; booking system slowed by heavy traffic
VANCOUVER -- British Columbians keen to go camping locally in the coming months can book a site in the province starting Monday.
The online reservation system went live at 7 a.m. with dates available up to two months in advance. Reservations will continue to open throughout the spring and summer on a rolling basis.
Locals will be given priority access to campsite reservations, and anyone who logs on to the Discover Camping site is asked to confirm they're a B.C. resident. Addresses are also used when creating a Discover Camping account.
Then, starting on July 8, people from other provinces will be permitted to reserve campsites for the rest of the summer.
When officials first announced camping registration would open, they warned the system would likely be quite busy. Some who tried to access the site Monday morning were instead given a notice that said it was "experiencing a high volume of visitors." A 60-second countdown was then shown before they were prompted to refresh the site.
Brad Mitchell tried to book a campsite in Golden Ears Provincial Park, but technical issues got in the way.
“When you get to the checkout process to pay, that’s when it kicks you out. And by the time you log back in, and go through the process again, the sites that you want are unavailable,” he told CTV News.
It was a similar experience for Leila Dusseault, who was forced to refresh the system for half an hour on Monday morning, before she could search through campgrounds. By then, the campsite she wanted was unavailable.
“It’s frustrating, and it sucks, because we have a family with a bunch of kids who are just going crazy. I understand the times and I understand everybody else is fighting for the same thing, too. We just want that little tiny bit of freedom we get for those couple of days,” said Dusseault.
George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy, told CTV News he's unaware of any glitches with the website, and says the system has been a success.
“We’re going to examine all the information we hear today. If there’s anything we can do to improve it, we will. But what I can say is by noon, over 6,000 people had booked campsites,” says Heyman.
Officials have also reminded residents that public health guidelines will likely still be in place when people go camping and can change at any time. Campers must adhere to orders on gatherings, even if the numbers for those gatherings are less than the maximum site allowance.
Demand for camping was so high amid the pandemic last year that more than 50,000 people tried to log on to the reservation site at the same time when it opened.
While the website has not crashed this year, Mitchell feels glitches need to be addressed before people miss out on their preferred camping dates like he did.
“What does it take to get a system that can handle even just the local demand of people logging on?”