County campgrounds move to online registration

·3 min read

Though the pandemic wreaked havoc on many aspects of life, the County of Grande Prairie is reporting its most successful camping season to date in 2021.

County campgrounds saw an increase in attendance last year; 12,887 overnight guests created $228,346 in revenue.

The county parks and recreation department says that the 2021 camping season saw an eight per cent increase in overall campground revenues; total number of campers increased by 830 campers in 2021.

The pandemic was a contributor to the increase in attendance, said Christine Rawlins, county parks and recreation manager.

She said that many had staycations during their holidays as traveling into the U.S. and further afield was difficult due to many restrictions.

The new year brings new changes to the county’s campgrounds.

The Committee of Whole will be recommending an online reservation system be set up this year for the Demmitt, Hommy, Bear Lake and Kleskun Hill campgrounds. This is a Camp Reservations Canada online reservation software program that could be rolled out on a one-year trial basis.

“One of the benefits for campers is that it allows people to pre-plan and pre-book their sites so that they're not rushing out to the campground on a Friday after work they can take their time knowing that their spot is waiting for them,” said Rawlins.

County parks and recreation department would report on the trial’s progress to council in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, the Pipestone Creek campground will continue to use the CampLife system it has used since 2017.

County parks and rec hopes that moving the reservations online will allow the campgrounds to benefit from industry trends that have shown an increase in occupancy with online reservations.

“It (online reservations) allows our park hosts to better anticipate how many people are going to be showing up at the campground that weekend and which sites are the priority to make sure they're clean and ready for incoming campers and allows us to anticipate how much firewood we would need,” said Rawlins.

She also noted that it has become a common practice among provincial and national parks and in-person reservations from park hosts at the campsites will still be available.

Before July 2021, the county employed mainly manual in-person methods of registering campers.

Online reservations are expected to be open by the end of January and the Pipestone campground online reservations will open Jan. 15, said Rawlins.

Beginning Jan. 1, a $5 per night fire permit fee is now in place for county campers, which will help campgrounds with the cost of firewood, says the county.

Rawlins says the new fee will help offset one of the largest expenses of firewood that the county campgrounds incur.

“We really encourage area residents to come out and explore our country campgrounds and we've done a lot of great improvements and beautification over the last couple of years, so that their visit a more positive and pleasant experience,” she said.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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