The B.C. government plans to hire more park rangers and open more than 1,900 new campsites to meet growing demand, the premier announced Monday.

The province will spend up to $22.9 million over five years to create the new sites as part of the B.C. Parks Future Strategy.

"B.C. parks define who we are as British Columbians and are a vital part of the B.C. advantage," Premier Christy Clark said in a release.

The popularity of camping in B.C. parks has been growing, with reservations increasing year after year — and an annual frenzy to secure choice sites that has sparked calls for reform.

Earlier this month, the province also announced changes to the booking system to address complaints about reselling and overbooking of spaces.

Targeted to high-demand areas

The new campsites will be built in all parts of the province, with a focus on the highest-demand areas in the Lower Mainland, Okanagan, and the Kootenays, the province said in a statement.

More than 800 of the new sites will be in provincial parks, with the remainder in recreational sites.

For the sites in parks, the province will also build the associated roads, water and sewer expansion, shower and toilet buildings and outhouse facilities.

New sites in parks will "incorporate accessible design standards," the news release stated, and older frontcountry sites will be audited for accessibility.

"People living with disabilities should be able to enjoy outdoor activities with no barriers," said the government statement.

B.C. Discover Camping

Reservation's on B.C.'s Discover Camping site for provincial parks campsites rose 16 per cent this year and 19 per cent the year before. (Discover Camping)

Loyalty card, license plates considered

The government release also outlined a number of other initiatives for B.C. parks, including:

  • Inviting First Nations communities and Indigenous groups to share their culture and heritage in parks.
  • Creating a parks advisory council.
  • Online and mobile activities as outreach for B.C. parks.
  • Opening parks to researchers from universities and climate-related agencies to monitor for effects of climate change.
  • Create B.C. parks-themed license plates, with ICBC.
  • Study the potential for a loyalty card program with discounts to users.

There are currently 10,700 campsites in 270 B.C. park frontcountry campgrounds, and another 2,000 backcountry campsites in the province.

Discover camping reservations system

The Discover camping reservation system allows anyone to book one of about 5,800 campsites in B.C.'s provincial parks system, along with backcountry permits. (Discover Camping)