Provincial parks and campsites in B.C. have been busier than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic. (B.C. government photo)

Provincial parks and campsites in B.C. have been busier than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. expands provincial parks as recreation demand rises

More than 14% of province now in parks, protected areas

The B.C. government has bought properties worth more than $13 million to add to its expanding provincial parks and recreation areas, as demand for outdoor recreation has continued to grow.

There are five purchased properties being added to parks at a cost of $3 million, and two other properties have been donated to B.C. Parks that are valued at more than $1 million. In 2020-21, B.C. Parks acquired land for additions to eight parks at a cost of $2.66 million, including lakeshore lands to be added to Christina Lake, Kootenay Lake, Gladstone and Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park.

The most expensive purchase is on Hornby Island, where the province paid $8 million for two properties, including the last remaining beachfront on Tribune Bay and an existing private campground with 135 campsites. The additions to Tribune Bay Provincial Park include potential for walk-in sites, cycle touring, hiking or kayaking.

Environment Minister George Heyman introduced legislation Thursday to alter the boundaries of 10 parks to accommodate the changes, in an annual program that has brought the total of provincial parks and protected areas to more than 14 per cent of B.C.’s total area.

“This is the result of seizing the opportunity to make acquisitions and purchases, in some cases private land, in some cases additions of Crown land, as we’re continuing to improve our park system as well as correcting some administrative errors,” Heyman said Feb. 10. “In some cases we simply don’t make a purchase because the price is too high. In many cases, the people who are selling want to get a fair return, but they also want to see that land become a piece of a park in a community in which they’ve spent their lives, and we seize those opportunities every chance we get.”

B.C. Parks also works with corporations and non-profits to add to its parks system through its land acquisition program.

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Additions to the provincial parks system include:

• Naikoon Park (Haida Gwaii): 123 hectares to protect wetlands and sand dunes.

• Blue River Black Spruce Park (near Blue River): 59 hectares to protect a wetland and the ecological integrity of the North Thompson River.

• Edge Hills Park (near Clinton): 50 hectares to enhance wildlife connectivity and protection of the Fraser River bluffs.

• Valhalla Park (near Slocan): 32 hectares to improve connectivity across the park.

• Okanagan Mountain Park (near Kelowna): 21 hectares to enhance wildlife connectivity and species protection, along with the addition of the Golden Mile Trail for recreation.

• Hole-in-the-Wall Park (near Chetwynd): 14 hectares to protect the culturally significant stream appearing from the base of a limestone cliff, which is known as the Hole-in-the-Wall.

• Gladstone Park (near Christina Lake): six hectares to add additional shorefront lands on the north end of Christina Lake, which is an important kokanee spawning area.

• Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park (near Kaslo) 18 hectares to increase connectivity in the park that includes habitat for mule deer and grizzly bears.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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