Maureen and Don Morey of Courtenay B.C. celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the West Coast this week along with their two sons’ families, one from Vancouver and the other from Calgary, making 11 Moreys in all and the family was delighted to be brought up to speed on local ecology by Pacific Rim National Park Reserve staffer Ewen Brittain last week. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Maureen and Don Morey of Courtenay B.C. celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the West Coast this week along with their two sons’ families, one from Vancouver and the other from Calgary, making 11 Moreys in all and the family was delighted to be brought up to speed on local ecology by Pacific Rim National Park Reserve staffer Ewen Brittain last week. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Canada 150 brings banner year to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“In response to this incredible year, we are very pleased to welcome visitors for an extended shoulder season.”

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is celebrating a spike in participation sparked by Canada’s 150th year of confederation.

Entry to the Park Reserve is free this year as Canada’s federal government is encouraging Canadians to celebrate their nation’s birthday by exploring the national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas it’s rich with.

“The Government is creating opportunities for Canadians to participate in a year-long celebration and to help shape the best that Canada can be in the future,” Parks Canada Visitor Experience Manager Dave Tovell told the Westerly News. “National parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas represent the very best that Canada has to offer and tell stories of who we are, including the history, cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples.”

Tovell said the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve has seen a nine per cent increase in visitation so far this year and that its Green Point Campground has been operating at 100% occupancy throughout the summer, prompting an extension to the campground’s usual operating season.

“Green Point Campground and the West Coast Trail are at capacity and we are seeing a significant increase in overnight camping permits for the Broken Group Islands,” he said.

“In response to this incredible year, we are very pleased to welcome visitors for an extended shoulder season. Visitors are invited to come and enjoy the beautiful forest and beach setting, as well as recent upgrades—including hot water showers and electrical service available to campers with valid camping permits—until November 15.”

Tovell said he’s been thrilled to see visitors not only enjoying the Pacific Rim’s scenery, but also signing up for the wide variety of educational programs being offered.

“We are also seeing a 13 per cent increase in attendance at our interpretation programs, with 3,700 participants in July alone,” he said adding some of the Park’s newer programs have seen early success.

“Developing new and innovative programs and services allows more Canadians, including youth and newcomers, to experience the outdoors and learn about our environment and history.”

He noted some of the more popular programs are designed to bring an important boost to wildlife savviness.

“For example, Tracking the Wild Guided Walk, starting at the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, takes participants on a journey along the beach and through the dunes to look for tracks and signs of bears, wolves and cougars,” he said. “Another very popular program is the new Rescuing the Rare Prop Talk. This interactive matching game highlights species at risk within Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, explores why they are threatened, and what conservation strategies are being used to help them.”

Anyone looking for more information about the Park Reserve’s programming can contact the Park Reserve at 250-726-4212, visit parkscanada.gc.ca/pacificrim, or check out the Kwisitis Visitor Centre.

Tovell said 2017’s boost in visitation has Park staffers encouraging tourists to check out the shoulder season scene or head out to traditionally less popular areas to avoid the crowds.

“As visitation levels increase and Parks Canada welcomes more people to national parks, we are encouraging shoulder season visitation and promoting less-frequented and less-sensitive areas of our parks,” Tovell said.

“For example, in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, visitors might consider checking out Kennedy Lake, the Broken Group Islands, and Combers Beach.”

He said the ongoing visitation boom shouldn’t scare tourists away, though anyone planning to visit should “avoid disappointment and having to return across the island,” by making sure they have accommodations secured before arriving,

“This is the place to come, whether you are looking for a chill beach experience, cool rainforest walk, fun activities for the family, hiking the epic West Coast Trail, visiting the picturesque Broken Group Islands, or opportunities to discover the culture and history of Indigenous People in the area,” he said.

“Even during this busy year, there are plenty of long, lonely stretches of beach on which to relax and connect with nature.”

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