Park Funding

The following is from a 2009 FOSP Parks Day information sheet.

Did you know that:

  • Recent BC Parks budget was $30 million for 650 Provincial parks (13,500,000 ha), previous high $42 million.
  • Washington State Parks budget was $100 million for 110 State parks.
  • Metro Vancouver Parks budget was $21 million for 21 Regional parks (3,700 ha).
  • National Parks budget for National Parks in B.C. about $1 million per park.
  • BC Provincial Parks budget averages about $43,000 per park (not an exact comparison as some BC Parks are very small and National Parks tend to be larger).
  • BC Parks will learn their 2009 operating budget next October, until then they operate on 50% of 2008’s budget.
  • Last week the Provincial Government announced 40 more layoffs in the Ministry of Environment.

This season back country rangers have been cut by 45%. Alberta has three times as many Park Rangers as B.C., and their Park system is much smaller. Here many campsites have had their open seasons shortened by several weeks. In Strathcona Park a number of trails have been closed due to unsafe bridges, and a lack of funding to repair them. Specifically, they are Crest Mountain Trail, Della Falls Trail, Tennant Creek Trail and the Lower Bedwell Valley Trail.

A BC Parks study called Economic Benefits of BC Parks found that for every $1 spent by the government on parks there was a $10 return to the economy.

Last year 63.8 (full time equivalent) park rangers worked in our provincial parks. To put this in perspective in the same year the government’s Public Affairs Bureau had 216 full time staff whose job is to control the information going out to the public and make the government look good, total budget $36,659,000.

The State of BC Parks

BC Parks system has been starved for funds for years. In 2001 there was a 30% cut to its budget. This resulted in a serious reduction of staff as well as a lack of money for maintenance and any new projects. This pressure has led Parks staff to look at other, more creative, means of financing.

Money for the new Visitors Center at Paradise Meadows and the adjacent trail has come from private sources, matching grants, lottery money, and various trust funds. Andy Smith of BC Parks, Steve Smith of SWI and Ted Foster of the Campbell River Rotary Club have worked tirelessly to achieve this.

As far as we know, not a penny of BC Provincial Government funds has gone to support these projects.

This lack of resources has also led to Parks to consider the proposal of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort to conduct horse trips into the Park in return for rehabilitating the Bedwell Trail and constructing a campsite at You Creek. It was said by a Park staff member that 10 years ago this wouldn’t have been considered, but in the present climate of the Provincial government’s encouragement of private commercialization, it is seriously being considered as an option.