The Pacific Rim National Park is offering free access to popular gems like Florencia Bay.

Get out and get active in West Coast paradise

Pacific Rim National Park announces free access while construction underway

The Pacific Rim National Park kicked off 2016 with some pretty significant construction projects underway and has nixed Park fees while the work is ongoing.

The Park completed a roughly $10 million repaving project in 2015 and jumped right into another $5 million worth of upgrades in December including a new $4 million water system and a $1 million roadwork project at Radar Hill.

In an email to the Westerly News, the Park’s Acting Superintendent Jackie Godfrey said the new water system would cut down on the amount of trucks the Park relies on to bring water in.

“Parks Canada is really excited to have a number of large infrastructure projects ongoing in the park reserve over the winter because the work is much needed and will make a big difference in the long term for our visitors,” she said.

“However, we also recognize that some of the closures and delays are an inconvenience to our neighbours and visitors.”

The Park is thanking West Coast commuters for their patience by offering free entry until April 30. Anyone who purchased a Family/Group annual pass for 2016 will enjoy free access until April 30, 2017.

The Park’s Long Beach unit remains open although the south parking lot will undergo periodic closures as construction companies use it to store gear.

Wickaninnish Beach remains open but access to it will be periodically closed as a new bridge is being installed on Wick Road.

Florencia Bay remains open through the Willowbrae Trail.

Along with offering free entry, the Park has also opened up online reservations early to help locals and visitors plan ahead for the summer.

“Visitors can now reserve their perfect camping spot in the heart of Parks Canada’s places on the West Coast earlier than ever before,” Godfrey said.

“With more and more families planning their summer vacations well in advance, Parks Canada is launching its online campground reservation system in January 2016, three months earlier than last year, to make it easier for visitors to plan their trips.”

Godfrey noted Green Point Campground’s spots fill up quickly especially during holidays and long-weekends so reservations are key.

“There is more flexibility in the shoulder season but if visitors want a particular camp site, they may still want to reserve,” she said.

She added Green Point has been upgraded to enhance the camping experience it provides.

“In response to visitor demands, Parks Canada has transformed Green Point into a full-service campground, complete with showers and electrical hook-ups,” she said. “We have also enhanced the camping experience by improving the viewscapes and sunlight so visitors can take in the lush rainforest and beautiful coastline.”

She said the Park is making upgrades to increase its popularity as a vacation destination and keep up with visitor demands.

“As Canada’s largest provider of natural and cultural tourism opportunities, Parks Canada is always looking to welcome more Canadians and visitors with new opportunities to connect with nature so they learn to appreciate these special place,” she said.

“In 2016, Parks Canada will continue to work hard to promote its visitor offer, offer more compelling and unique events and activities, and make significant improvements to its facilities at its places.”

She added attracting Canadians to National Parks helps connect them to their country’s environment.

“By encouraging Canadians to visit their national treasures, and providing them with the information and means to enjoy them, Parks Canada allows more Canadians, including young Canadians and newcomers to Canada, to experience the outdoors and learn about our environment and history. By building these connections, we can create a community of stewards—people who know and care about these irreplaceable treasures,” she said.

“Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has something to offer everyone and Parks Canada, in partnership with local communities and businesses, looks forward to welcoming visitors to this popular destination so they may enjoy a unique West Coast experience.”

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday next year, Parks Canada is reportedly making entry into Canada’s National Parks free in 2017 for anyone who purchases a pass in 2016.