B.C. is stepping up its provincial park game.
The Ministry of Environment has struck a new 10-member board tasked with promoting and enhancing its B.C. Parks experience.
The new board’s members were announced on March 28 and the list includes Ucluelet First Nation president Les Doiron.
“I am honoured and humbled to be appointed to the BC Parks Foundation Board of Directors. We, the Ucluelet First Nation, are keenly aware of the importance of our natural world, which has and continues to sustain our Nation,” Doiron told the Westerly in an email. “I am very proud to be a representative of my Nation and First Nations communities across the province on a Foundation whose purpose is to protect and enhance our BC parks”
He added representing the values of his Nation’s roughly 700 members is his key focus on the board.
“As a First Nations person and the President of a Maa-nulth Treaty Nation on Vancouver Island, our people have always been stewards of the land and have taken care of resources and the earth. That is my ultimate goal,” he wrote. “I am excited for the opportunity as a Maa-nulth Treaty Nation—that is a self-governing nation—to work with some very capable and serious leaders on the Board of Directors to make a positive difference.”
The foundation will be guided by four key principles: protecting, connecting, inspiring and enhancing.
“Independent of government, the foundation strives to ensure the provincial parks system is valued and protected for generations to come,” the release states. “British Columbians are encouraged to contribute to help preserve the ecological, recreational and cultural values of B.C.’s world-class parks system.”
The 10-member board is armed with an initial $10 million endowment from the provincial government.
“The BC Parks Foundation will help generate additional revenue to support our beautiful provincial parks and protected areas for future generation,” said B.C.’s Minister of Environment Mary Polak through the release. “Individuals, families, community groups and others will now have the opportunity to contribute to protecting and preserving our world-renowned parks system.”
The foundation’s endowment was part of a $35 million commitment from the provincial government to increase and strengthen conservation within B.C. Parks.
The funding, announced by Premier Christy Clark in November, is expected to create 28 full-time park ranger jobs along with new programs. Outside of the $35 million conservation boost, the province is also putting roughly $23 million towards creating 1,900 new campsites within its parks.
The release suggests no other province in Canada has a higher percentage of protected land than B.C. does and B.C.’s provincial parks welcome over 21 million visitors annually.
To illustrate how high its park system’s popularity is running, the ministry noted it’s already sold over 12,000 new BC Parks licence plates, which were unveiled on Jan. 29 and feature provincial park scenery.