B.C. Parks contractor appeals for travel ban clarity after needlessly cancelling campers

·2 min read
Kilby Provincial Park on the Harrison River has 35 campsites. (Submitted to CBC - image credit)
Kilby Provincial Park on the Harrison River has 35 campsites. (Submitted to CBC - image credit)

A B.C. Parks manager is frustrated he needlessly cancelled upwards of 80 campsite reservations after the provincial government's confusing rollout of travel restrictions.

On Tuesday, Premier John Horgan announced non-essential travel between health regions was off limits until the end of May to help curtail the spread of COVID-19.

After hearing the news, the manager of the 35-campsite Kilby Provincial Park near Agassiz in the Fraser Health region acted, cancelling campers living outside of Fraser Health as per the information. Most of them were from the Vancouver coastal region.

Then on Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced for the purposes of the travel ban, Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health would be considered a single region, meaning all those campsite cancellations were in vain.

"The big problem is this comes at the expense of the public. They are the ones bearing the burden of this fiasco," said the manager.

The manager said he was just trying to do the right thing and abide by orders announced by Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry.

He said other campsite managers have also been caught in the crosshairs of changing information.

"We all just sort of fell in line and started cancelling reservations from outside of the health area region," he said. "It was pretty clear what Horgan and Henry said: don't leave your health region, there will be checkpoints, there will be things in place to stop you."

In a statement, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, which oversees B.C. Parks, said it did not direct reservation cancellations.

"The details on restricted travel are to be announced this week, at which time B.C. Parks will be in touch with reservation holders," it read.

The manager said he's been trying to reinstate as many of the cancelled bookings as possible, but openings on the website were quickly snatched up leaving scorned campers livid.

He believes the government needs to be more deliberate in the way it communicates with the public.

"Be clear and don't walk something back," he said. "It's not the end of the day for me ... but it affects the public the most."

This story was updated on April 23 to remove the name of the campground operator because it was determined the CBC was not clear to him that his name would be published in the story.