As the pandemic heads into a second summer, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) is planning to offer 14 sites per day at its only campground, Katherine Lake.
Kevin Clarkson, the SCRD parks superintendent, told Coast Reporter that booking for the full season – May 21 to Sept. 19 – opened on May 4. Usually, the registration for campsites opens on May 1, but Clarkson said there was some confusion around what the provincial health regulations meant for the campground.
Katherine Lake campground has 29 sites, 19 for RVs and 10 for tents. This season, half of the capacity is available to book, with 10 RV sites and four tent sites. Up to five registered campers will be allowed at each of the available sites, for a maximum of 70 campers per night. The available sites will be spaced out, with at least one empty site between the booked spots.
“We try to book every second site, just to limit the potential for exposure” and allow for social distancing, Clarkson said.
“I haven’t really heard the final confirmation but I wouldn’t be surprised if, not yet, very soon we’ll be looking at being fully booked up.”
The Victoria Day long weekend is fully booked at Katherine Lake Campground, he said.
Currently, the SCRD is only accepting reservations from people who live within the combined Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health region, following the non-essential travel restrictions put in place by provincial emergency order.
“We’re limited to what they specify in the provincial health order and we follow provincial guidance on that,” Clarkson said, adding that they will continue to monitor any updates.
Safety guidelines are under review by a committee and will be shared with staff once finalized, Clarkson said. Campers can also expect more signs at the campground explaining screening protocols, more hand sanitizer available, reminders to socially distance and additional cleaning measures.
“It’s tough to police everything, but there’s an enhanced lens on safety and I think everyone tries to respectfully do their part,” Clarkson said. “We have caretakers and staff regularly on site that are there to remind them and if there’s any safety issues.”
Clarkson said this season was slightly easier to plan than last year, when the pandemic and related restrictions and guidelines were newer.
Booking for Katherine Lake Campground is only available by phone, although Clarkson said an online system is being planned for future seasons. Residency checks will be done both at the time of booking and upon arrival to the campground.
Other campgrounds on the lower Sunshine Coast include three under BC Parks management. BC Parks is also following the provincial health order restricting non-essential travel between B.C. health regions, which is effective until May 25 – after the Victoria Day long weekend.
In an update regarding provincial travel restrictions and camping in 2021, the BC Parks website says, “Park operators will be monitoring for compliance with all restrictions across all of our parks.”
A maximum number of campers or visitors to each site varies depending on the type of site and reservation, but all campers and visitors must follow provincial restrictions and guidelines regarding travel and gatherings.
According to the BC Parks website, the Roberts Creek, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park and Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park campgrounds will be open for the 2021 camping season. Roberts Creek is scheduled to open on May 15. Its 21 campsites are first come, first served.
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park campground opened April 15. No bookings are available until May 24, according to the online reservation service.
At Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park, camping is a year-round activity and operates on a first come first served basis.
The cabins at Tetrahedron Provincial Park remain closed. Camping is not permitted in or out of the cabins. The park is currently day-use only due to the pandemic.