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An update on the Budget 2019 Consultation Report

From our Executive Director, Barry Janyk:

As Fed members are aware, the FMCBC provided a submission again this year to the Select Committee responsible for making recommendations regarding the 2019 provincial budget.  Earlier in November, the recommendations were released in a report. Page 24 of the report stated (in part):

BC Parks

“A number of organizations recommended increased investment in BC Parks in recognition of the social, economic and environmental benefits parks provide to British Columbians. The Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia highlighted that every dollar invested in parks generates $8.42 in visitor spending, collectively provides a $392-million-dollar boost to GDP, and supports over 5,200 full time jobs. They noted that BC Parks manages the third largest parks and protected areas system in North America but receives less funding than other, comparable jurisdictions. According to the B.C. Parks Foundation, BC’s budget on parks equates to approximately $2.80 per hectare whereas Alberta spends $36 per hectare. When adjusted for inflation, they noted that BC spends less on parks than in 1985 even as the number of parks and visitors has increased substantially since that time.”

The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC and the Elders Council for Parks in British Columbia drew attention to the increased demand for public recreation in BC’s provincial parks and protected areas. Increasing operational funding would enable the hiring of additional full time park rangers to manage increased activity in parks, protect parks that are at capacity, and supervise restoration and maintenance of trails and ecosystems

In addition to more funding for BC Parks, the Prince George Backcountry Recreation Society also requested increased funding for the Recreation, Sites and Trails (RST) division in the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Increased funding for both BC Parks and the RST division would help address staffing and capacity challenges as they currently depend on contributions from volunteers, including the Prince George Backcountry Recreation Society and the Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Club, to help maintain trails and facilities.”

Recommendation #19 on page 81 was mildly optimistic… again:

“Increase base operational funding for BC Parks to support monitoring and enforcement, public safety, recreational infrastructure, and conservation planning.”

While the Committee makes another positive recommendation based on the Fed’s – and others’- repeated requests for more BC Parks resources, it is only a recommendation and it’s usually ignored. While the recommendation is favorable I believe this is the fourth year the Select Committee has made it.

As it is, the province gets great return on little—to no—investment.  BC Parks’ operational budget hasn’t increased significantly for years and, in fact, funds going into BC Parks and the revenues coming from BC Parks are almost equal.  That can’t be sustainable.  If we want to see (positive) changes in our parks the province has to do more than just build more campsites, so it can just derive more revenue to cover costs.  If the province fails to pony up once again in 2019 I think we are all going to have to step up the game.

The complete report can be found here: https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/41st-parliament/3rd-session/fgs/FGS_2018-11-15_Budget2019Consultation_Report_Web.pdf

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