‘Very high demand’ forces Parks Canada’s camping reservation system offline

CALGARY — Parks Canada delayed opening camping reservations this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but thousands of Canadians are crying foul after the system went offline with technical issues.

Officials with the agency say the reservation system “is experiencing very high demand” and has led to “technical difficulties.”

“We are actively investigating the problem and working to fix the issue,” Parks Canada wrote on Facebook Friday.

“Thank you for your patience. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

The apology didn’t provide much solace for anyone waiting in the queue for reservations, which some reports indicate have approximately 24,000 people waiting to book backcountry sites.

Comments on the Parks Canada Facebook post accuse the agency of not properly testing its system before going live and not adequately protecting it from being swamped by automated “bots” snapping up sites.

“This isn’t your first rodeo so why didn’t you stress test it? Your system is a laughing stock,” wrote commenter Steve Duncan. “Also, by denying back country guides the ability to book, you’ve essentially put them out of business.”

“How embarrassing is that a federal agency can’t figure out how to handle reservation management system? It has gotten progressively worse over the years, and 2021 has got to be a pinnacle of unpreparedness on behalf of Canada parks,” wrote Julia Khafizov.

According to its website, Parks Canada’s online service provides for camping reservations at 38 national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas in Canada.

Meanwhile, the telephone number listed online is also “currently unavailable.”

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