BURNABY – The BCGEU welcomes the B.C. Government’s announcement of new BC Parks funding and conservation initiatives as part of their BC Parks’ Future Strategy and actively urges the government to reinstate traditional funding to 2001 levels. At the same time, the union notes a lack of real details in key areas that affect the delivery of park services in the province.
The B.C. Government announced $22.9 million in new funds for campsite expansion, along with $5 million to establish a BC Parks Foundation, and a commitment to hiring new park ranger positions among other initiatives.
“We welcome the Premier’s commitment to create new park ranger positions in BC Parks and we will make sure to hold her to that commitment in the upcoming budget,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. “The BCGEU and our community partners have consistently made a strong case for increasing park ranger staff over the years, and the public clearly supports the re-instatement of park services in British Columbia.”
The number of full-time senior park rangers working in the field has been dramatically reduced over the years, from 27 in 2001 to only seven positions filled currently – a 74 per cent reduction in full-time field staff at a time when 2.3 million hectares have been added to B.C.’s parks and protected areas.
Environment Ministry data shows that the number of seasonal staff has shrunk by 40 per cent since 2008, while the number of full-time staff has been reduced by 11.4 per cent in that time. Seasonal park ranger positions have also seen reductions in their terms of service, with many working only two to three months per year. Since 2001 BC Parks funding has seen a 40 per cent real funding cut of $19.18 million, when adjusted for inflation.
“We have written a letter to the Premier commending her on the government’s commitment to re-invest in B.C. Parks, and asking for details of the proposed increase in park ranger positions,” says Smith. “We will urge her to increase the number of full-time park ranger field staff and lengthen the work season for seasonal rangers, to at least match 2001 funding levels.”
“B.C. Parks play a huge role in our province’s identity and our economy,” says George Buis, vice president of the BCGEU’s Environmental, Technical and Operational Component. “Government data shows that every dollar invested in BC Parks generates $8.42 in visitor spending. Our parks area a major economic and environmental asset to British Columbia.”
For more information and to support giving BC Parks a raise, visit the BCGEU campaign page: www.savebcparks.ca