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BC Parks 100th anniversary marked by neglect, underfunding: BCGEU

Contributor
By Contributor
July 29th, 2011

Reaching the ripe old age of 100 would normally be something to celebrate. But there’s nothing to rejoice about in BC Parks this year, according to the BCGEU.

In advance of the B.C. Day long weekend, the BCGEU placed ads on July 29 in the Vancouver Sun, Province and Times Colonist newspapers to draw attention to the underfunding of provincial parks. A website, saveBCparks.ca, has also been created.

The BCGEU, which represents BC Parks ministry staff, is concerned about the continuing degradation of parks infrastructure.

“Government underfunding is to blame for the state of B.C. parks,” said Byron Goerz, a BCGEU spokesperson for parks staff. “BC Parks now receives 25 per cent less funding than a decade ago. Nearly a third of the jobs have disappeared. Our parks are in decay, and it’s time to fix the problem.”

The government’s own documents, obtained through an FOI request, illustrate the gravity of the problem:

  • $10 million cut from the parks budget since 2001.
  • Leases on at least 40 vehicles terminated in 2009.
  • Travel budgets for rangers to access parks cut in half.
  • Gas budgets for parks vehicles slashed.
  • Some rangers forced to patrol parks by bus.
  • Budget to service outhouses and toilets reduced.
  • Basic funding for essential supplies like toilet paper chopped.

“We’re calling on the B.C. Government to increase BC Parks’ operating budget to its 2001 level of $40-million dollars,” said Goerz. “B.C. parks are one of our most important natural public assets.”

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