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App developed to help campers find sites

Spending days off at a B.C. Parks campground has become so popular you often need to book well ahead of time. But with the help of a new app two website developers have devised, there still is hope of snagging a spot at the last minute. Campnab.
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Spending days off at a B.C. Parks campground has become so popular you often need to book well ahead of time.

But with the help of a new app two website developers have devised, there still is hope of snagging a spot at the last minute.

Campnab.com will scan the B.C. Parks website for any cancellations at the parks you're interested in visiting and notify you via a text message when a spot opens up.

It was launched Tuesday by Eric Karjualoto and Eric Shelkie, partners in smashLAB and former Prince George residents now living in Vancouver.

The inspiration was personal experience, namely Shelkie's attempt to make use of a camper van he had just bought.

"What he found is if you don't book them months in advance, often you just can't get them and that just bugged him," Karjualoto said.

The response so far has been encouraging, according to Karjualoto.

"We've built a number of things over the years and this is the one that's probably had the most immediate positive reaction and I think it's just because so many people are unhappy about it," he said.

"It seems pretty universal that if you like camping, you've struggled with that problem of not being able to get anything without driving at least four hours."

A controversy erupted last summer over tour operators booking up blocks of campsites and leaving locals out in the cold. A record-breaking interest in B.C. Parks campsites - reservations jumped by 16 per cent over the year before - also created a black market with campers scalping their unused reservations.

Changes were made to the Discover Camping online reservation to prevent further trouble, notably a four-month rolling window for reservations rather than an opening day for the entire season.

There is a price for using the app. $10 gives you a scan every 60 minutes, $15 every 20 minutes and $20 every five minutes, all for a four month window. Memberships of $5, $10 and $15 per month give the same services for a year.

"I kind of liken it to paying someone to wait in a line for you to buy an iPhone," Karjualoto said.