'Running on empty' on BC Parks' 100th anniversary

Little to celebrate on historic occasion

VANCOUVER, Feb. 28 /CNW/ - It's the worst of times for B.C.'s venerable provincial parks, which celebrate their centenary on March 1, 2011.

Created by five generations of British Columbians who wanted to set aside special places for future generations, our provincial parks are in deep trouble.

During the past decade, BC Parks has struggled amid funding and service cuts by the provincial government. This year, BC Parks' budget is 20 percent less than it was in 1996 when the park system was half the size it is now.

The first services to be axed were the interpretive programs. Next, park rangers became an endangered species. Today, B.C. has only 10 fulltime park rangers to patrol a park system that covers almost 14 percent of B.C.'s land base. Seasonal staff has been chopped by more than 60 percent since 2001.

Declining attendance has been the consequence of these cuts. Park visits have dropped by 25 percent since 1999, in large part due to the introduction of parking meters. Trails have fallen into disrepair. Some parks have closed. Others have had their seasons shortened. Badly needed work isn't getting done. For instance, Pinecone Burke Provincial Park has been waiting since 1996 for its first outhouse.

Along with environmental and labour groups, and concerned citizens, the BCGEU is a signatory to a full-page ad in the Province and Times Colonist newspapers. We are calling on the B.C. government to increase BC Parks' operating budget, limit industrial development, remove parking meters and restore interpretive programs in B.C. parks.

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information:

or to set up an interview, please contact Karen Tankard of BCGEU Communications, at 604-291-9611 or 604-312-1204 or email at karen.tankard@bcgeu.ca

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B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

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