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New campground for Garibaldi part of $600,000 BC Parks upgrade

Provincial government to improve road access and upgrade ranger stations



A new 30-site backcountry campground is being built at Elfin Lakes as part of a $600,000 infrastructure investment in Garibaldi Provincial Park by BC Parks.

Along with the campground, the money will go into building toilet facilities, a picnic shelter, improving the access road and an upgrade of ranger stations.

This is part of a $13.98 million capital budget announced by BC Parks for 2012-2013, for 120 projects in 89 parks. The investment in Garibaldi Provincial Park is part of $2.38 million being spent in the South Coast Region, which includes the Lower Mainland and the Sunshine Coast.

Overall, the capital budget fund for BC Parks has increased by 27 per cent over last year, or by $3 million, BC Parks said in a release.

A major priority for capital projects, the release continued, was "directed at attracting young families, offering new recreation opportunities, improving accessibility and increasing attendance."

Almost 20 million people visit British Columbia's provincial parks every year.

"We want to encourage even more people to get out and enjoy B.C.'s spectacular parks," said environment minister Terry Lake, in the release.

"These improvements will keep the regular visitors coming back and encourage other, more diverse groups to visit in the future."

A spokesman for BC Parks said in response to emailed questions that the investment in Garibaldi Provincial Park came because "some backcountry parks have visitation levels equal to or higher than parks with day-use areas and campgrounds. Visitor health and safety are often the primary concern in these wilderness areas." 

In terms of a timeline, the spokesman said the project was still in the early stages of procurement and shipping of materials to the site, but it was hoped most of the work would be completed in 2012.

"Actual construction work is very weather dependent, with the window of opportunity being extremely narrow. BC Parks plans to have the bulk of construction done before the weather makes work impossible in the late fall," he wrote.

Other planned projects in the Sea to Sky area for 2012 include Stawamus Chief Provincial Park trail investments and Alice Lake Provincial Park shower building upgrade planning.

According to the BC Parks Annual General Report released in October 2011, there were 64,894 day use visits at Garibaldi Provincial Park in 2010/2011, a drop of 33.1 per cent on the previous year due to late snow and many trees on the trails until later in the season. Camping use for the same period at the park totalled 4,675 for 2010/2011, a drop of 44 per cent, also because of poor access conditions.