Province announces $35-million investment in B.C.’s parks 

Funds will go towards hiring of 25 park rangers, BC Parks Foundation endowment

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK PHOTO - Swim Lake at Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.
  • Shutterstock photo
  • Swim Lake at Brandywine Falls Provincial Park.

Victoria is stepping up conservation efforts in B.C.’s parks with the recent announcement of a $35-million investment over the next three years.

The funding will go towards the hiring of approximately 25 more full-time park rangers, new programs to protect the natural environment, and an endowment for a new BC Parks Foundation.

“The investments we're making in BC Parks will help us to preserve and strengthen the spectacular, natural environment we're so fortunate to have right in our own backyard,” said environment minister Mark Polak in a release. “It's an investment not only for British Columbians, but indeed for the entire world.”

$25 million will allow for the increase in park rangers, done with “a focus on protecting and preserving the backcountry,” and is in addition to the current seasonal ranger program where 87 temporary positions are filled during peak season.

The remaining $10 million will serve as the initial endowment to the new BC Parks Foundation, which will help generate private revenue to be spent on “promoting and enhancing the experience in BC Parks,” according to a government release.

Other initiatives planned as a result of the funding increase include:

-A Discover BC Parks program where the public can interact with mobile learning spaces, mobile apps, online activities for children, and volunteer-led outreach programs;

-Opening parks to universities and climate-related agencies as “living laboratories” where researchers can monitor the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and wildlife;

-Enhancing community and volunteer involvement through new community liaison officers, who will forge relationships with local governments, community groups, businesses, schools, advocacy groups, and the public at large.

The province is also inviting First Nations and Aboriginal groups to share their culture and heritage through BC Parks, and “in so doing share their perspectives on nature and history to the broader community.”

In addition to this funding, Victoria has committed to investing $22.9 million to build 1,900 new campsites in provincial parks and recreation sites across the province.

For more information, visit bcparks.ca.

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