The NWT Parks campground bookings website partly buckled under the weight of desperate, cooped-up northerners as it opened on Wednesday.
The territory’s campgrounds are for residents only this summer, the NWT government has said. The online reservation system went live at 10am on Wednesday, two months later than its usual opening date.
Immediately, the website ground to a halt for some residents.
By 10:15am, a handful of people reported successfully being able to reserve sites.
Others remained out of luck. Some who complained to NWT Parks via social media were told: “Keep trying, you will get through.”
New this year is a Covid-19 waiver that all campers must sign before their booking can be completed, acknowledging they will not camp if they have symptoms alongside other requirements.
The NWT Parks booking system struggling on opening day is something of an annual occurrence – the website has in previous years had trouble accommodating the sheer volume of traffic as campers try to book.
This year, with pandemic-related restrictions cutting off many travel opportunities, NWT residents were expected to deluge the territorial parks network despite the absence of non-resident tourists.
The NWT government had provided less than a day’s notice of the booking system opening for the season.
In the legislature, Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler complained that not all residents are capable of using the reservations website.
Katrina Nokleby, the minister responsible for parks, said “We will look into how we accommodate those that don’t want to use the online system.”
Nokleby said parks this year will offer a promotion whereby anyone reserving five nights gets a sixth for free.