Premier Christy Clark declares free parking in BC Parks
NORTH VANCOUVER - Premier Christy Clark and Environment Minister Terry Lake launched the BC Parks centennial celebrations by announcing that parking will now be free in all provincial parks to encourage families to take advantage of our world-class parks system.
"The parking meters are coming out and parking will be free, effective immediately, so that British Columbia's parks are even more welcoming for families," said Premier Clark. "Our parks not only contribute to a healthy lifestyle and protect our environment, they are important to our economy. More park visitors mean more tourism dollars and more jobs for rural British Columbians and we want to eliminate any barriers to using the parks."
The Province also announced a $500,000 Community Legacy Program to support communities while they celebrate the BC Parks centennial. The funding will be used to improve parks across the province. Community groups can apply for up to $20,000 for projects such as trail enhancements, improvements that support recreational activities or conservation of a park's ecology or cultural history. These projects will provide a lasting commemoration of BC Parks 100.
"BC Parks are a part of who we are," said Lake. "They help define us as British Columbians, and show that we care deeply about our environment and our planet. The new legacy fund looks to the future and the improvements we can continue to make, and it looks to the past 100 years by recognizing that community groups have played a key role in making the parks and protected areas system what it is today."
While we celebrate BC Parks 100, park visitors will be the ones getting the birthday gifts through a number of promotions throughout the year. Starting soon, people can share photos or stories from a BC Parks adventure at www.facebook.com/YourBCParks and then go to www.bcparks.ca to submit their name for a random draw of a BC Parks birthday pack to make your next park visit more enjoyable.
With 13.6 per cent of the province set aside as parkland and protected areas, B.C. has the second largest park system in Canada, second only to the national park system. Special events will be held in parks across the province all year, as BC Parks honours 100 years of conservation and recreation, from the snowy peak of Mount Robson to the tidal pools of Haida Gwaii.
The Past 100 Years:
- Established on March 1, 1911, Strathcona Provincial Park, in the centre of Vancouver Island, was British Columbia's first provincial park.
- Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, was climbed for the very first time in 1913 - the same year it was established as the second provincial park.
- In the past decade, the B.C. government has established 65 new parks, 144 conservancies, two ecological reserves and nine protected areas. More than 60 parks and six ecological reserves have been expanded. In total, these additions protect more than 1.9 million hectares of additional land.
- In the spring of 2010, the BC Parks system was again expanded by more than 27,000 hectares. Seven new provincial parks and one new conservancy were established and land was added to 12 existing parks.
- BC Parks manages almost 1,000 provincial parks and protected areas covering approximately 13.6 per cent of B.C. - more than 13.1 million hectares or 131,000 square kilometres. It's the third largest protected areas system in North America, after the Canadian and American national park systems.
- About 20 million people visit British Columbia's provincial parks each year.
- There are about 6,900 kilometres of trails in the BC Parks system. That's longer than the Canada-U.S. border, which is approximately 6,400 kilometres.
- Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is the largest, spanning 989,616 hectares. Memory Island Provincial Park on Vancouver Island is the smallest at less than one hectare.
- The Kitlope Heritage Conservancy protects the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world.
- The 440-metre high Della Falls in Strathcona Provincial Park is Canada's highest waterfall and one of the 10 highest in the world.
- Every fall, the world's most productive sockeye salmon run can be seen at Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park.
- British Columbia's parks are vital to protecting species-at-risk and important habitats, assisting the movement of species resulting from climate change, sequestering carbon and protecting water and watersheds.
- The 947,026-hectare Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park is a World Heritage Site. Together with adjacent protected areas in Alaska and the Yukon, it forms the world's largest international World Heritage Site.
- Khutzeymateen Provincial Park is Canada's only grizzly bear sanctuary and is home to the highest known concentration of grizzlies along the British Columbia coast.
- British Columbia has the highest percentage of its land base dedicated to protected areas of all Canadian provinces. Combined with the national parks system, 14.27 per cent, or more than 13.5 million hectares, of British Columbia's land base is protected. That is an area equal in size to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. combined.
- The vast majority of land in the BC Parks system - 98 per cent - remains predominantly free from human alteration.
- The BC Progress Board's Benchmark Reports for 2009 and 2010 ranked B.C. first in Canada on environmental quality and on protected areas.
- British Columbia's provincial parks offer campsites, day-use areas and thousands of kilometres of trails as fun, convenient and low-cost ways to explore the province.
- There were over 19 million visits to our parks in 2009, increasing to more than 20 million during the past year. Reserve your camping adventure through Discover Camping at www.discovercamping.ca or through the call centre at 1 800 689-9025.
- There are more than 340 campgrounds, 118 boat launches and 263 day-use areas in B.C.'s provincial parks system.
- British Columbia's parks have hosted the world's best athletes. During the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Cypress Provincial Park played host to the freestyle skiing and snowboard events. In March 2011, Silver Star Provincial Park hosted the Sparkling Hills Masters World Cup 2011 cross-country ski championships.
Projects to mark the centennial include:
- High tech meets the great outdoors with a smart phone-friendly web portal for Discover Camping that allows campers to make or change a reservation for a provincial park camping spot while they are on the road. For more information, go to: https://secure.camis.com/Discovercamping/
- BC Parks and GeoBC have created an online tool linking people with a variety of info about BC Parks. For example, with the new Google Mashup Tool, park fans can use Google Maps to get directions to a park, view all the protected areas in the province at once or link directly to each park's web page. Click the Find a Park by Location feature at: www.bcparks.ca
- MEC 100 Years of Adventure, a partnership between Mountain Equipment Co-op and BC Parks, will see ten adventure-themed events held to celebrate parks as a playground for outdoor adventure. The calendar of events is available at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/events/100Adventure/
For More Info:
The BC Parks 100 website: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/
The BC Parks 100 event calendar lists celebrations happening across B.C. all year long: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/events/calendar/#eventList
BC Parks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/YourBCParks