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Outdoor Group Urges B.C. Gov’t to Increase Budget for Recreation

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The Outdoor Recreation Council of BC (Canada) has launched a new campaign ahead of the 2022 budget that demands the provincial government to increase the investment in one of its recreation departments to create rural jobs and promote healthy communities.

According to a report, during the 2021 camping season, over 3.1 million campers visited provincial parks, and more than 260,000 reservations were booked via BC Parks, marking the highest volume on record.

According to OCRBC, last year, BC Parks secured a funding increase of CA$83 million to fund improved recreation facilities and new opportunities for several planned projects.

The ORCBC urges province officials to increase the budget in the next year to fund investments in outdoor activities throughout the province.

“We strongly encourage the government to follow suit in this year’s budget by investing in recreation on the other 80% of the land base,” said Louise Pedersen, executive director for the ORCBC.

The Recreation Sites and Trails BC, an agency under the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development, is run by just 50 employees with an annual CA$8 million operating budget.

The ORCBC declares that the Recreation Sites and Trails BC oversees more than 1,000 recreational sites and 20,000 kilometers of trails across all regions of the province and is facing a substantial maintenance backlog, an excessive dependence on partnerships with volunteer recreation groups, and a lack of ability to participate in recreation and land use planning effectively.

They are concerned that the agency may be somehow off the radar of the government’s priorities.

The ORCBC that well-planned and managed recreation facilities are a vital part of the economy of outdoor recreation and BC’s reputation as a CA$20.5-billion tourist destination.

Outdoor recreation is not just a stalwart source of physical activity, mental wellbeing, and social connectedness during trying times; it is also a significant economic powerhouse that can invigorate and strengthen BC’s rural towns by creating jobs, diversifying economies and boosting tourism,” said Pedersen.

The ORCBC has created a campaign to seek more recreation funding in the 2022 budget by soliciting B.C residents to reach out to their local MLA and ask them for a boost in budget for Recreations Sites and Trails BC in the 2022 provincial budget.

The campaign template is available via www.orcbc.ca/ask-your-mla-to-support-outdoor-recreation.

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