Ontario Parks is cracking down on people who book camping sites, then resell the reservation to make a profit.
Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek’s office said the province doesn’t condone reselling reservations and they’ve heard concerns from people this year because it’s been particularly difficult to book a site.
“We know that there are instances where individuals are attempting to sell reservations with the intention to make a profit,” Chelsea Dolan, Yurek’s director of communications, said in an email to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo Thursday evening.
As of Saturday, people who have reservations will not be allowed to resell the site.
“If Ontario Parks becomes aware that anyone has attempted to sell a reservation for profit, for example, if they have listed a reservation on social media or buy and sell websites for re-sale for profit, the reservation may be cancelled and all applicable penalty fees will apply,” Dolan said.
People eager to camp
Would-be campers have flocked to the Ontario Parks website. The provincial parks service tweeted that bookings jumped from 29,504 in the first few weeks of 2020 to 58,475 for the same period this year.
Many have complained of difficulties getting a spot in their desired park. Alex Smith of Guelph told CBC K-W last month that he prepared each morning for the reservation system to open at 7 a.m., but he and his partner, Shoshanah Jacobs, have been unable to snag a spot for this year.
Jacobs and Smith thought it was all just bad luck until Jacobs saw an ad for a camping site registration bot that promised to help people get the site they wanted. An ad on Kijiji listed 20 different camping dates in various provincial parks, and in each case, the cost to book from the bot was more than what people would pay if they booked directly with Ontario Parks.
The ad has since been taken down.
Dolan said they will continue to listen to campers and park visitors who have concerns about the system and Ontario Parks wants “to ensure a fair and transparent reservation system is provided for everyone.”
She added that Ontario Parks is also looking for ways to make more campsites available for people “to satisfy the growing demand.”
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