While BC Parks opened its camping reservations site Monday morning, few people have been actually able to book a site.
A Castanet reporter has tried, and failed, to book a site for the past 90 minutes, but the Discover Camping portal is crashing repeatedly. Numerous other Castanet readers have reached out to say they have been unable to get through.
"Annoying experience and so disappointing that a government website is so useless!" said one reader.
Social media is also full of B.C. residents frustrated with the situation, likely caused by heavy web traffic.
However, reservations are picking up speed, according to the Ministry of Environment, with 10 reservations being processed every second as of late Monday morning.
“Although the system was slow this morning, reservations are getting through and there are still lots of sites available within this two month rolling window,” a spokesperson said in an email statement to the Tri-City News.
For comparison, at this time last year the system was very busy, processing 1,100 reservations in one day — today, 800 were processed in the first half hour alone.
More than 50,000 people were online at opening trying to simultaneously access the system. But as of 11 a.m. today, 27,500 reservations made as of 11 a.m.
"It’s also important to note that the two-month rolling window means that new sites will be coming online every day, so there are still lots of opportunities coming up to book campsites throughout the last week of July and all of August," the statement noted.
“We apologize to those unable to access the system due to these overwhelming numbers. We thank everyone for their patience and encourage them to keep trying.”
There were supposed be some happy campers in B.C. today as many campgrounds across the province are prepared to open June 1, reservations open on the Discover Camping website today at 7 a.m. Bookings can be made on a rolling two-month period, so as of Monday, reservations can be made up to July 25.
B.C.'s provincial parks were temporarily closed because of a lack of physical distancing during the pandemic, but many have reopened.
BC Parks website says, "to ensure physical distancing, you may notice some changes in campgrounds, including additional spacing between campsites and limitations on the number of guests in campgrounds."
Access to campsites is limited to B.C. residents for the entire 2020 season but not all sites will open and some will open with reduced capacity.
Non-B.C. residents with a previous reservation can contact the BC Parks call centre for a refund before June 15. Non-B.C. residents who try to make a reservation after May 25 will have their booking cancelled.
— with files from Diane Strandberg