Summarized by Monika Bittel, FMCBC Director

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released its Report on the Budget 2024 Consultation

The FMCBC made written and oral submissions to the Committee. Dave King also made submissions on behalf of the FMCBC member clubsCaledonia Ramblers Hiking Club, and the Prince George Backcountry Recreation Society. Below are relevant excerpts from the Committee’s report. Bold highlights made by FMCBC Director, Monika Bittel. 

Executive Summary (pp. 6-9)

Excerpt: The Committee agrees on the need for additional efforts to address climate change, including increased investments in mitigation and resiliency, highlighting that climate change is impacting all areas and industries in BC. … Regarding environmental protection and wildlife conservation, Members support increasing funding for land use planning, increasing capacity of enforcement, supporting salmon recovery, and addressing the threat of invasive species. Committee Members also acknowledge the importance of protecting BC’s water sources and addressing challenges of increased droughts and depleting watersheds. Members additionally support investment in BC’s parks and recreation sites to improve maintenance and access to these areas

ENVIRONMENT (pp. 31- 42)


Excerpt: The Committee received recommendations from across the province to increase the budget for BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC. Comparing BC to Alberta, the Elders Council for Parks in BC noted that Alberta funds its parks department at $20 per hectare whereas BC Parks is currently funded at approximately $5 per hectare with a total budget of $69.6 million, and recommended that the budget in BC be increased to $100 million. Outdoor Recreation Council of BC was also of the view that BC Parks should have an annual budget of $100 million while Recreation, Sites and Trails BC should be provided an annual budget of $20 million. To increase revenue, the Commercial Bear Viewing Association suggested implementing a park use permit process while the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association recommended that BC Parks increase campsite fees to help cover operating costs. Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society suggested that more educational resources could be provided to help students learn about the biodiversity in these parks. 

Organizations highlighted issues with the maintenance of parks and recreation sites, requesting more funding to address their concerns. Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society noted that parks are some of the world’s last remaining carbon sinks and are invaluable; however, access to these parks relies on up-to-date maintenance cycles to keep the trails in good condition, remove waste, and keep signage updated to highlight biodiversity and safety issues. Similarly, the Kettle River Museum explained that recreational tourism is important for small and rural communities along the Trans Canada Trail but each year the museum hears complaints that the trail is deteriorating, and repairs are needed to ensure that tourism continues in the Kootenay area. The Caledonia Ramblers Hiking Club and the Prince George Backcountry Recreation Society stated that although BC Parks has received small budgetary increases, it is not enough to fill budgetary shortfalls, requiring the organization to rely on volunteers to maintain trails, backcountry recreation sites, and facilities. They also noted that there are only 60 staff for Recreation Sites and Trails BC who are responsible for all the maintenance work on 80 percent of Crown land, adding that only two people look after all the recreation sites and trails in the Prince George and Mackenzie Forest Districts. They recommended more funding, an additional staff member for the Prince George Mackenzie Forest Districts, and a staff member dedicated to consultation with First Nations. Additionally, Friends of the South Slopes Society commented on the extensive effort and Report on the Budget 2024 Consultation 37 cost required to safely maintain and support recreational trails and infrastructure and requested increased grants and funding for volunteer organizations that maintain parks and trails. 

The Committee heard about the need to improve access to parks and recreation sites. The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC explained that several roads are washed out and backcountry sites need repairs and upgrades. The federation explained that many of the access roads are in poor condition due to washouts and failing infrastructure. The federation called for funding to repair and maintain access roads and infrastructure to improve access to provincial parks, trails, and recreation sites. BC Snowmobile Federation requested dedicated funding of at least $2 million for road infrastructure providing access to parks, recreation sites, and trails. 

The Outdoor Recreation Council of BC explained the role and importance of both BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC has evolved with added duties to consult with First Nations, conduct more rigorous environmental and cultural heritage impact studies, and adapt infrastructure to deal with climate change; however, neither agency has the resources to deliver on their mandates proactively and effectively. They noted the need for additional funding to ensure BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC can fulfill their new duties.

The Committee also heard from the BC Recreation and Parks Association about aquatic programming. The organization explained that since the pandemic, programming rates for aquatics are running at 30 percent of the pre-pandemic capacity and that investment in programming will prevent drownings or injuries. The association noted that funding is needed to ensure more adoption of aquatics, and for the recruitment and retention of aquatic staff, the association explained that this is particularly important for a province that is coastal and abundant with many natural bodies of water widely enjoyed for recreation.

Under Conclusions on pp. 39-40

Excerpt: Reflecting on the increase in outdoor recreation in BC, Members noted that the budget has not kept up with the increased use and highlighted opportunities for additional revenue by increasing fees for campsites which have not changed since 2016. The Committee also noted that trails and backcountry sites have seen significant damage from flooding and wind, leaving many trails potentially unsafe, and that much of the maintenance work is done by volunteers who are having a hard time keeping up. In particular, Members noted that the Trans Canada Trail has seen degradation and partial closure in parts of BC and is entirely maintained by volunteers. The Committee acknowledged and expressed appreciation for these volunteer groups and noted the need for them to receive increased support…

Relevant recommendations are listed on pp. 41-42 (repeated on pp 103-104). Recommendations 56 and 58 reflect the FMCBC’s submissions (written and oral). The written submissions are attached for ease of reference. All of the Committee’s recommendations are summarized on pp. 100-109.


  1. Provide increased, long-term funding for BC Parks and Recreation Sites and Trails BC to support: 
  2. Long-term planning, development, and maintenance of trails, day-use sites, and campsites; 
  3. Partnerships with First Nations on recreation projects; 
  4. Improved accessibility of recreation facilities; 
  5. Maintenance of roads and infrastructure; 
  6. Climate change mitigation efforts; and 
  7. Timely approval of applications for trail and site developments and maintenance from volunteer-led recreation groups. 


  1. Increase revenue in the BC Parks system by implementing a one-time inflationary province-wide increase of $3-5 per night for provincial campsite fees. 


  1. Provide increased grants and funding to volunteer organizations that maintain provincial parks and trails. 


A further note of interest:

Under Public Health on p. 53, there is the following reference about the value of recreation as a form of preventative health care, which aligns with the studies commissioned by the FMCBC in the 2010s:

… additionally, the BC Recreation and Parks Association advocated for a three-year scaled investment to support a pilot project in conjunction with health authorities to provide free recreation to those 14 to 25 years old as a form of preventative health care…