Manitoba aims to improve outdated and much-maligned campsite reservation service

A reservation system that has sparked more anger than campfires could soon be getting a makeover.

The Manitoba government issued a news release on Tuesday saying it is looking for input from campers and provincial park users on ways to improve the booking process in the short term, while also working toward replacing the current outdated system built in 2006.

“We have collected feedback from campers who encountered difficulties making reservations this year and in years past,” Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard stated in the release.

This past spring saw a record-breaking rush of people trying to lock up campsites through the Parks Reservation Service.

(Government of Manitoba)

Rather than finding a site, many people found frustration in the form of long waits lines and technological issues. In some cases, people were knocked out of their spot in the queue and had to restart, finding themselves thousands of spots back from where they had been.

“The volume of reservations and number of devices trying to access the system at the same time was unprecedented,” the province said in a background document about the need for changes.

People are invited to find out more about the process and to fill out an online survey that the province says is “aimed at guiding the process toward a reliable, convenient and fair reservation system.”

The province attributed the “extraordinary uptake” in demand for camping reservations in 2021 to the cancellation or restriction of other recreation and travel options due to COVID-19.

Prior to the pandemic, the opening day for campsite reservations averaged about 9,000 bookings. By contrast, more than 13,000 reservations were made on April 5, 2021, resulting in 99 per cent of the cabin and yurt inventory being reserved for the entire camping season.

The aim is to have some temporary fixes in place for the 2022 season and an entirely new system in place for 2023.

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