2020 High Visitation Management

2020 Jurisdictional Scan: High Visitation Management
Does your jurisdiction have any creative solutions to deal with compliance enforcement during times of overwhelmingly high visitation?
B.C PARKSYESDavid Ranson
COMMENTS: Hi Dawn – BC has done two things: the first is to implement closures of areas; the second is to develop a free limited day use pass concept for high traffic areas that can’t be reopened without visitor controls. We have not finalized nor launched the day use pass at this point and it is confidential at this point. I’m happy to chat with Heather about this if she would like more details.
ALBERTA PARKSInquiring JurisdictionHeather Lambert
COMMENTS: Hi DawnWondering if you could do a quick call out to CPC members to see how they are dealing with overwhelming visitation? With our 250+ campgrounds and 450+ parks receiving the highest visitation we’ve ever seen, it is not possible for our enforcement staff to be everywhere at once and are curious if any parks have creative solutions to deal with this?
SEPAQ (QUEBEC)YESCatherin Grenier
COMMENTS: We are experiencing a similar situation in Quebec. While we are happy with our success in connecting more people to nature it is indeed coming with an additional loads on our on the ground teams.A few elements worth sharing:We are aiming for electronic day-use only and have introduced on-line quotas to limit numbers. (It is actually very useful for our beaches where we are enforcing 50% capacity)We are deploying social media and info bulletin to our park pass holders (we have 143K more with 50% being first-time comers to parks) to educate them about parks mission and responsible behaviours.We are using every media opportunity to promote web purchases of passes and respect of rules. (We are experiencing well above average media coverage which is a good thing)In some of our most frequented areas we have added security guards (private firm) at strategic locations to help staff with compliance.
COMMENTS: Hey Dawn and Heather, well to be honest I found out about the program (details below) the day before it launched… so I can’t say we’re being overly proactive through parks at this point.We opened with 100% of our campsites being available though, so we didn’t have to adapt in that manner thankfully.This will be longer term, but there are increasing discussions on contactless camping – reservation through self-check in. In a sense we’ve been able to do that since we introduced the reservation system, but haven’t attempted to implement it.

Today, the Province of New Brunswick announced an important program to help ourtourism industry recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Explore NB TravelIncentive Program was launched today to encourage New Brunswickers to get out and enjoy a summer staycation here in our province.
Here’s how the program works:From July 15th- September 30th, permanent New Brunswick residents can receive a rebate equal to 20% of eligible expenses when they choose to go on vacation inside the province. To qualify, residents must have at least one paid overnight stay. Eligible costs fall into four categories:• Accommodations (hotels, motels, inns, B&Bs and campsites);• Food and drinks (restaurants, food trucks, etc.)• Activities (entries to attractions, art galleries and outdoors adventure, etc.);• Travel (vehicle rentals, ferries and parking)
COMMENTS:Yukon has seen a 150% usage spike as measured by our firewood consumption.
We adopted an Incident Management approach to both closing and then re-opening our parks along with going all in on our new Safety Management System with the appointment of a dedicated Safety Officer and Incident Information Officer. This helped us organize, communicate and stay resilient in the face of new challenges and unintended consequences. These tools are already being used by your Fire Management group who use the Canadian Incident Command System (ICS). They incidentally helped us communicate and integrate with our Emergency Measures folks who are using the same system. An online collaborationtool, BaseCamp help us stay together.
We have adapted by messaging to park users that Camping is different during COVID and some normal services may take longer and not be available so come self sufficient and be patient. We have tried to spread out the work in pinch point areas, the Director has even put on a Ranger uniform to help out on long weekends. We are also fast tracking an organizational design change to have the education – information – compliance and law enforcement roles be shared amongst all front line staff. Similar to the Parks Canada Quality Visitor Experience model, we are empowering staff to solve a visitor’s issues within their sphere of influence and report out.

Response Rate: 4/13 for 31%

Key Findings:

  • New Brunswick Parks is experiencing the opposite problem and has introduced a program to encourage local residents to engage with parks. 
  • Sepaq has introduced electronic passes with a quota. They have also introduced security guards at higher visitation areas to aid grounds staff. 
  • Yukon Parks has introduced dedicated Safety and Incident Information Officers to help them organize and stay resilient. They have collaborated with their Fire Management group who use the Canadian Incident Command System, and they use BaseCamp to keep communications open. 

Future Questions to Ask:

  • How successful have the tools introduced by Sepaq and Yukon Parks been in the past year? 
  • What tools did Alberta Parks introduce to help mitigate this problem?
  • Would it be valuable to introduce an emergency preparedness plan for future situations of a similar nature?

Links to Resources: 

  • N/A