Economic Benefits of British Columbia’s Provincial Parks

BC’s has a natural and varied biodiversity that is one of the most diversified in Canada. The Provincial Parks have two major roles which are to protect in a large area a broad range of the ecosystem and features that include natural, cultural, historic and recreational activities. Moreover, within the past years the government has increased the range of protected areas. BC’s Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection and Dr. Paul Opryszek of PricewaterhouseCoopers have researched the economical impact and benefits of the provincial parks structures. The research is in majority concerned with quantitative analysis of the economical impact linked with the government, park visitors and protected areas.

BC Parks is a division of the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection and is the division responsible for the stewardship of protected areas throughout the province. Their authority comes from four major legislations which are the Park Act, the Ecological Reserve Act, the Environmental Land Use Act and the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act. BC’s provincial parks manage to balance a high-quality and safe outdoor recreational use and protect the natural and cultural heritage of the area. BC provincial parks have a high impact on the tourism industry and play an important role on the economical scale of the Province as they provide outdoor recreational experiences for everyone. The tourism industry within the parks is considered a world-class recreational provider.

BC provincial parks include many other positive benefits other than the economic one such as the preservation of the natural and biological diversity, natural benchmarks for scientific research, understanding and preserve action of the cultural heritage of the areas, outdoor classrooms for the public of all ages and the opportunity to have a variety of recreational activities.

The Different Types of Economic Impacts

The impact brought by BC’s protected areas on the economy is beneficial and provides several impacts within the public and private sector. There are of course direct and indirect effects from the protected areas. The direct effects were measured on an expenditure basis that equal to the sum of the purchases that were done by park visitors from goods and services and the purchases from the government of goods and services to support the system. The other measurement is based on the provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which represents the value added by BC businesses and workers. The indirect effects are measured with different systems that are looked at through employment impacts, tax revenue, and the input/output model. The input/output model is used to evaluate the economical impact for the provincial parks which includes production-factor input and good-and-services output data from Statistics Canada.

The results of the studied showed that around $533 million in 1999 directly impacted on BC’s provincial parks that was due to a combination of visitor expenditures and the Ministry’s operational budget for the parks system. In the next few years it has been shown that there was an increase on the economy mainly due to direct spending from visitors. The creation of a Youth Employment Program will create Park-related seasonal jobs and add more to the economical impact of the protected areas.

The study has shown that on an annual basis BC’s provincial parks have provided around 9,100 employments.

When compared to other economical sectors that can either decline or increase depending on the years and trends. The parks system has been able to maintain a substantial level of economic activity that can be seen as a stabilizing asset to the provincial economic picture. This stability is a direct result of the stewardship mandate of BC Parks.


The benefits provided by the park are various but positive for the environment, social and economical aspects of the Province. Moreover, the protected areas allow a high quality outdoor recreation quality at the same time looking after the natural biodiversity of BC and maintaining it at a healthy level.