Outside group urges B.C. authorities to extend assist for trails, parks, and volunteers

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Leisure and tourism organizations in BC have sent a message to new Prime Minister David Eby urging the provincial government to increase support for the outdoor sector in the upcoming budget.

40 organizations and businesses across the province are raising concerns about the growing interest in outdoor recreation, which is straining already limited resources. They have reported a lack of parking, access to sanitation, aging leisure infrastructure, environmental and wildlife impacts, maintenance backlogs and staff shortages as complaints from British Columbians.

In the letter to the Prime Minister, they call on the provincial government to: Increase Recreation Sites and Trails BC’s annual operating budget to $20 million and BC Parks’ annual budget to $100 million, the Trails strategy for British Columbia to amend and confirm appropriate support for implementation of the updated Trails strategy and investment of $10 million in a BC Trail Fund to provide reliable funding to community-based organizations that help maintain BC Trails.

A University of Saskatchewan study found that outdoor recreation in BC brings residents of British Columbia $15 billion in economic value annually, in addition to the benefits it brings to community health, the reconciliation through participation the aborigines and more offers.

“BC’s outdoor recreation sector has experienced decades of underfunding that has resulted in loss of access, adverse environmental and cultural impacts, and strained resources, including pressure on staff and volunteers,” said Louise Pedersen, executive director of BC’s Outdoor Recreation Council.

Last year, the provincial government allocated $83 million over three years for recreational infrastructure in BC parks, but non-park recreation areas, which make up 85 percent of the province, have not received the same support.

Recreation Sites and Trails BC manages 15,000 kilometers of hiking trails and 2,200 recreation areas on Crown Land with just 50 employees and an operating budget of $8 million.

“We call on the province to make new and needed investments that will place British Columbia in a much better position to develop a world-class trail and recreation system that will enable broad and inclusive participation in outdoor recreation, best practices for trail design and environmental considerations and promoting reconciliation through increased representation of indigenous people in recreation planning, development and management,” added Pedersen.

Visit orcbc.ca/fundoutdoorrec to learn more about the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC’s campaign.

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