BCGEU launches BC Parks billboard and social media campaign

On-site inspections video reveals parks neglect

VANCOUVER, Sept. 2, 2011 /CNW/ - As part of a continuing effort to highlight the impact of a decade of budget cuts to BC's park system, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) announced the next phase of the union's Save B.C. Parks campaign today, which includes a series of billboards and an internet-based social media campaign.

"B.C. parks have been in decline in many areas of the province for over a decade, since the B.C. Liberal government started making massive cuts to the parks service," says BCGEU president Darryl Walker. "The budget cuts starting in 2009 have cut so deep that parks staff are now unable to fully monitor and protect BC parks.

"The Premier has talked about pursuing a jobs strategy for BC, with strategic investments in key sectors including tourism. Their own study shows that every dollar invested by government in our parks system generates $10 in tourism revenue. We are making the case that BC's parks should be near the top of the government's priority list for re-investment."

The BCGEU campaign focuses on recent Freedom of Information documents that reveal in startling detail the impact of budget cuts: Only 10 full time park rangers to serve all of B.C. More than 40 parks vehicles cut in 2009. Gasoline and travel budgets slashed. Parks staff forced to take Greyhound buses and taxis to visit patrol areas. Basic supply budgets for toilet paper and office supplies evaporated.

Five billboards, which are installed on Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the B.C. interior, show a park ranger hitching a ride on a bus with toilet supplies. On the back of the bus, an ad celebrates BC Parks' 100th anniversary. The text reads: "Massive cuts to BC Parks. No way to celebrate a birthday."

This summer, the BCGEU conducted an on-site inspection of over 35 BC parks, campsites and day use areas on Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, to document the impact of the cuts to BC parks. The resulting online video reveals the decay that has beset parks in rural areas around the province.

"Our on-site inspections clearly show that there are two park systems in BC," says BCGEU Environment, Technical and Operational Component chair Byron Goerz. "In favoured areas like the Olympic corridor up to Whistler, our parks have benefitted from capital investments.

"But in large sections of rural BC, which rely on tourism for their economic survival, BC parks are showing the effects of a decade of decay. Infrastructure is degraded, many sites are poorly maintained and in some cases, obvious safety hazards are being ignored for lack of revenue, monitoring and enforcement."

The BCGEU has set up a campaign website: www.saveBCparks.ca where people can view a video of the inspection tour, download campaign materials, and e-mail the Premier and Environment Minister to ask them to restore funding to BC parks.

Image with caption: "SAVE BC PARKS BILLBOARDS - The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union has launched a billboard and social media campaign on Sept. 1 to draw attention to the impact of a decade of neglect in BC parks. The union has also created a campaign web page (www.saveBCparks.ca) which includes a video of a BC parks inspection tour and an online feature to e-mail the Premier and Environment Minister. (CNW Group/B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20110902_C8287_PHOTO_EN_2800.jpg

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information:

Chris Bradshaw at 604-291-9611 or 604-369-8411

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B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

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