Michaels: Headline grab for camping woes

Much ado has been made of British Columbians not getting an opportunity to camp this year.

John Horgan

Much ado has been made of British Columbians not getting an opportunity to  camp this year.

There were complaints about the reservation system locking people out.

Others griped about fellow capitalists having the audacity to trying to make a profit off of their camping oriented businesses, and booking up sites faster than they could.

The latest whinge came from NDP Leader John Horgan.

He was in the Okanagan recently, saying rising campground fees in B.C. parks was getting in the way of a good outdoor adventure for cash-strapped families.

Camping fees at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park,  for example, went up more than 16 per cent just last year.

“People lucky enough to find a campsite here at Okanagan Lake are being forced to pay even more money to experience one of the jewels in our provincial campground system this year,” said Horgan, while standing on said jewel.

“The Christy Clark government is making it harder and harder to enjoy the beautiful campgrounds British Columbians have already paid for with their taxes, and I say it’s time to let B.C. camp.”

It didn’t quite bottom out in that “let them eat cake” way Marie Antoinette was famously misquoted — c’est la vie— but  I can’t say the call for British Columbians to have more chances to live like transients really resonated with me.

Maybe it rankled me because homelessness is something that really could use some concerted effort in this city, let alone this province. Mostly I think it was because homelessness is an experience more of us are going know more intimately if this cost of housing thing doesn’t get some serious attention.

Maybe I’m wrong and this really is a big deal, and not just a chance to get headlines on a populist issue of little actual importance?

B.C. is really beautiful and its residents certainly should get as much access to the outdoors as they can. But I live in B.C. I was largely raised in B.C. and the one thing I know for sure is that B.C. has no shortage of the great outdoors.

And while I enjoyed my time away from this province in cities where open spaces and clear air seemed mythological I came back because, while I don’t want to sleep outside, I do want to soak in the natural world as much as I can.

So my family and I go for walks and picnics. We swim and ride our bikes. We even camp in our yard when the neighbourhood bear isn’t trolling for garbage. My husband thinks it’s because he couldn’t get a campsite, like legions of others who clicked too slowly on the reservation site. It’s really because I like the option of going to my own bed in the middle of the night …  but I digress.

I’d like to stay in B.C., like so many others I know, so my family can keep doing all the aforementioned things. But this is an expensive place to live and the wages aren’t that hot.

So before the great and good of this province make more ado about nothing, perhaps they can focus their efforts on what’s really important for us common folk.

Here’s a hint, it’s not camping.

Kathy Michaels is a reporter at the Kelowna Capital News, part of the Black Press family of newspapers.

 

 

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