MBA student works for fair camping access

Cindy MacDougall

During the summer, Angela Massey and her family like to escape for impromptu camping trips. They pack up and zip over to nearby Golden Ears Provincial Park, one of the largest camping parks in British Columbia.

Golden Ears holds open about 15 per cent of its campsites in the busy season for “first come, first serve” campers. That policy allows last-minute campers and people who can’t reserve a spot online with a credit card to camp. Online reservation is also more expensive and must be booked months in advance.

“When we went camping last summer, the park operator told us this would be the last year we could do this, because next year it’s going 100 per cent reservation only during the peak season,” says Massey, a Master of Business Administration in Executive Management student.

Over the campfire that night, Massey and other campers decided to fight for first come, first serve camping in Golden Ears.

“We started a petition and we couldn’t believe how quickly we got a response,” she says. The petition quickly garnered more than 7,500 signatures.

Massey says the fight is about fairness.

“With reserved sites, you have to book four months ahead on the computer with your credit card,” she says. “There are shift workers who don’t know their holiday that far in advance, and seniors who aren’t tech savvy, and students and people with low incomes who don’t have credit cards.”

Massey says she used skills recently learned in the MBA program to help argue her case to government officials.

“It gave me the tools to ask the right questions, and to bring in all the information to fight for our cause, and to get public consultation,” she says. “We had a positive outcome from every meeting.”

The BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced Nov. 8 Golden Ears will continue to keep 15 per cent of its sites for first come, first serve campers in summer 2019.

Massey says she’s delighted with the success, but isn’t stopping there. She’s now working to increase the number of non-reserved sites at Golden Ears, and helping camping advocates as they petition for the same in other parks.

“Camping is supposed to be inclusive, not exclusive,” she says.