The new BC Parks camping reservation system is ready to be put to the test ahead of opening day on Monday.
The online reservation service is part of a broader redesign of BC Parks' digital services and will allow people to create an account and save booking preferences.
"As more people explore British Columbia's spectacular outdoors, we are improving the online services they rely on to plan their visits to BC Parks," said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in a prepared statement Wednesday.
The BC Parks website crashed in May 2020 after it was inundated with requests. The same thing happened in 2021.
The new booking system will be scalable to support thousands of concurrent users per second, according to staff.
These numbers are based on steadily increasing trends of visitors, a BC Parks spokesperson told Glacier Media; the spokesperson noted BC Parks has load tested the system beyond these numbers in order to respond to and mitigate the kind of instability that users experienced with the previous system.
"Providing a more reliable, responsive and easy-to-use reservation service will better meet the needs of people wanting to access and connect with nature by easily identifying available camping opportunities in provincial parks,” said Heyman.
During a media viewing of the site that Glacier Media attended, staff explained how BC Parks has worked hard to make the user experience efficient.
Following input from campers, park operators and other service organizations, there are more flexible search options. Those include a map to search campgrounds and an interactive calendar that shows when booking sites will become available.
Before a person pays for their booking, all of the fees and cancellation fees are now plainly laid out and explained. There is also an easy way to select a discount for seniors; previously, it was more difficult to access.
The new reservation service kicks off on March 21 at 7 a.m., and people will be able to reserve a campsite up to two months before their desired arrival date at most campgrounds.
People are already creating profiles on the new site.
BC Parks staff say the feedback so far has been positive.