Businesses located near national parks, historic sites and canals run by Parks Canada could be asked to pay fees to help offset upkeep and operating costs.
Environment Minister Peter Kent openly talked about the potential fees this week, while also suggesting that a plan to cut the operating hours of those sites — in some cases by half — could be reversed or scaled back, The Tyee, Vancouver, British Columbia, reported.
Kent made the comments after meeting with municipal leaders from 13 communities along Ontario’s historic Rideau Canal system.
“There are quite a few beneficiaries along the Rideau Canal system, as in our national parks, who in this context pay absolutely nothing for the privilege of operating those businesses,” Kent said. “Whereas in the national parks there are franchise fees to be paid by those who benefit economically.”
One of those attending Tuesday’s meeting with Kent was Doug Struthers, the mayor of Merrickville-Wolford, Ontario. Struthers said the minister never spoke at the gathering about the possibility of charging fees to commercial operators on the canal. And he said such a move could pit local businesses against each other.
“It would be an interesting conversation, I’m sure,” he said. “Nobody likes to have a fee to be in business.”
The meeting focused on the government’s current plan to cut back the canal’s hours of operation, and its potentially devastating impact on local businesses. Kent acknowledged that he heard the concern loud and clear.
“The initial inclination was to reduce operating hours on the shoulder periods, in the early spring and the late fall,” Kent said. “The mayors have been very effective in communicating that there would be significant impact economically.”
No decisions have been made, however, and Kent was merely being frank about his discussions with communities and businesses that would be affected by any changes, said spokesman Adam Sweet, who stressed Thursday that the minister is not advocating charging new fees.
The plan to trim operating hours is still scheduled to go ahead in the spring, Sweet added. A number of measures are also being considered to boost revenues and cut the cost of running the parks and other national tourist attractions.
Over the last 2,000 years, the archipelago in the St. Lawrence River just off Canada’s Boucherville shoreline have had aboriginal settlements, farms and even an amusement park that featured horse racing and roller coasters.
Transformed into a provincial park in 1984, the Boucherville Islands will offer something new beginning next year: Camping and chalets just minutes from downtown Montreal.
As reported by the Montreal Gazette, two new campgrounds will be built in the Îles-de-Boucherville park, with sites available to campers as early as next spring, Environment Minister Pierre Arcand said Monday (July 30).
The new campgrounds are part of a $6.3-million plan to upgrade services in the park, which is the smallest provincial park in Quebec. The plan also includes the construction of a new service and interpretation centre, a new four-season trail and a lookout over the river, as well as a new waterfront welcome centre for boats.
Discussions are also under way with transit agencies and private operators to create a shuttle service between the park and Montreal and the South Shore, Arcand said.
Arcand called the plan, drawn up by the agency that manages Quebec’s provincial parks, “magnificent” and said he hopes it will attract more people to the park.
“I think that in today’s context where people increasingly understand the health benefits of visiting green spaces and at a time where we realize that our youth has very little contact with nature, these investments will allow everyone to enjoy nature,” Arcand said.
In preparation for the upcoming Canada’s Parks Day 2012, Go RVing Canada is providing tips for a fun and affordable family RV adventure, according to a press release.
On July 21, Canadian parks and historic sites from coast-to-coast will host fun and educational events for the whole family. Go RVing Canada is excited to support the many parks and historic sites which Canadians flock to each year.
RV vacations are a flexible and fun way to visit many different Canadian tourism hotspots on a family vacation. RV travel is incredibly flexible because you can bring along all the comforts of home and turn a regular weekend into a getaway at a moment’s notice. Canadian parks often have educational events and family oriented activities available, making the RV getaway a fun-filled outing for everyone.
“Canada’s Parks Day is a great reason to get in your RV and visit your local historic site or park,” said Emily Reid, Go RVing Canada’s national spokesperson. “RVing is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, and with so many beautiful parks across Canada offering RV friendly sites, you can enjoy an RV adventure in any province.”
A typical family RV vacation can be up to 78% less expensive per day than other forms of vacation travel. The savings associated comes from the flexibility of cooking in your RV, as well as the low cost of accommodation. RV campsites range from $25-$45 dollars a night and include hookups for water, electricity and waste to service every RV need.
“Around 90% of owners say that their number one priority is seeing the country,” said Reid. “Why not seize Canada Parks Day as an opportunity to visit a new part of the province and explore the great outdoors in an RV?”
For more information on the RV lifestyle, please visit www.GoRVing.ca.
It used to be that a camping experience was little more than a camp spot by the lake with, hopefully, nearby showers and clean restroom facilities.
These days campgrounds, especially the privately run, for-profit variety, have moved far beyond their roughing-it roots to provide heated, indoor swimming pools, games rooms and scheduled family events, the National Post, Don Mills, Ontario, reported.
“Most of the parks, if you go on their websites, actually publish their weekend events,” says Alexandra Anderson, executive director of Camping in Ontario, which represents about 425 of the approximately 1,000 private campground operators in the province.
Basically, any real (and imaged) event has been seized upon by operators looking to generate the excitement that comes with major calendar holidays. “Christmas in July is a biggie, Halloween (in the summer) is always a big one, the parades and parties that go on for Canada Day are crazy now.”
To attract an audience beyond hard-core campers who may prefer the more bare-bones camping experience of provincial and national parks, many private operators have added splash pads, water slides and elaborate water toys such as floating trampolines.
“It is very much more of a resort scenario,” Anderson says. “Camping is no longer just the event any more. It’s the camping and what else can we do with the camping.”
The proof that camping is more than just a struggle to pitch an unfamiliar tent in the dark or praying for a stop in the rain can be found at campgrounds such as Bissell’s Hideaway in the Niagara region of southern Ontario.
Besides campsites, the park offers a one-acre swimming pool, giant water slide, kiddies splash pool, daily activities and a host of sports and leisure facilities ranging from free paddleboats to mini-putt golf, playground, arcade and sports activities ranging from tennis and beach volleyball and shuffleboard.
“We have found over the years that people want more and more, so we just keep adding activities or toys that enhances fun times for families,” says Ed Miklavcic, manager of the Ontario resort park.
Getting people out of tents and into more plush accommodations is also a key component of broadening the appeal of a campground,” Miklavcic says.
Some park operators used to offer rudimentary sheds for campers who preferred not to sleep in tents. Bissell’s has taken that a few steps further, renting out cabins that range from rustic to mid-range units sporting full bathroom and kitchen facilities to larger deluxe cabins with all the comforts of home.
“It almost like luxury hotel rooms,” says Miklavcic of the upscale cabins. “They have kitchens and living rooms and TVs, the whole bit. So you are basically getting your hotel room but with the great outdoors with it.
“The thing about it is you have a part of the population that would never think of camping because they don’t want to kind of rough it,” he says. “With these units then you basically open up your whole clientele.”
An avid camper and lover of the outdoors, Marjorie LeDrew wanted to get more Canadians to visit national parks. That’s why she bequeathed $1 million to Parks Canada, the largest private donation to the national parks system in its 101-year history.
According to a report by the Globe and Mail, Toronto, Parks Canada opened a new yurt campground on Saturday on the shores of Cyprus Lake in Bruce Peninsula National Park. The new campground and renovation to the nearby parking lot and trails were made possible with LeDrew’s donation, along with $2.5 million provided by the federal government.
“We have received a tremendous gift from an insightful Canadian citizen, which will be enjoyed and remembered by future generations of visitors to this special place,” Environment Minister Peter Kent said.
LeDrew’s sister and estate representative, Dorothy Hunter said: “She just wanted to get more Canadians camping and I think she would be very pleased with how this turned out.”
LeDrew died in 2008 in Bracebridge, Ont., at age 80. Since then, Hunter has been working with Parks Canada to build the campground with 10 yurts – tent-like structures that are mounted on a wooden deck floor – and a common space with hot showers and campfires, but details of her sister’s donation were kept under wraps until the result could be unveiled Saturday.
“They are ideal for older visitors who might not want to rough it out any more but still enjoy the outdoors, but also people who are new to camping and need a way to ease into the whole experience,” said Frank Burrows, park superintendent for Bruce National Park. “We think it really works with what Marjorie was trying to do … encourage more people to enjoy our national parks.”
LeDrew worked for Canadian Industries Ltd. for 39 years as a secretary and moved from Montreal to Toronto with the firm. “She was frugal and this [camping] was really important to her,” Ms. Hunter said. “I think she was happiest around the camp fire.”
Hunter said her sister was interested in the outdoors from an early age, but it was as an adult that LeDrew really took to camping. “She and her husband would go together every weekend in the RV or camping,” Hunter said.
After her husband passed away, LeDrew founded Loners on Wheels, a camping club for singles in Ontario in 1990, that is still going strong.
“I didn’t even know where all she went or what her favorite park is because she would come from work and take straight off for camping,” Hunter said.
While LeDrew had never visited Bruce Peninsula, Hunter said she believed her sister would approve of her decision to work to make the national park more accessible to recreational vehicles. “That’s how she got around, so I think other zoomers would also appreciate that change to this park.”
Go RVing Canada is kicking off the May long weekend by announcing another successful RV show season for the RV industry. According to a press release, thousands of Canadians visited RV shows this year as overall attendance numbers were higher than 2011.
In Alberta, RV show attendance broke records with an impressive 35% attendance increase in Calgary and a 25% increase in Edmonton. Promoters reported a noteworthy shift in the demographic of visitors as well, with more young families discovering the joy of RVing. Ottawa also saw a significant increase of 27% in attendance this year while the Toronto International RV show saw an increase of nearly 30% in attendance and the Hamilton show had a 7% increase.
“With show attendance reports indicating a successful RV show season, we project that this will be a busy summer for RVing across the country,” stated Go RVing Canada National Spokesperson Alana Fontaine. “We are excited for the summer RV season to get underway this May long weekend.
The May long weekend has traditionally been considered an official “kick-off” to summer and with more families discovering the joy of RVing, provincial parks and local campgrounds are expecting many RV visitors this summer. The Ontario government is encouraging families to, “Enjoy the great outdoors” this weekend, citing most provincial parks officially opening their doors.
“RVing is a very affordable vacation option because it is so flexible, not to mention how much fun it is. More families than ever are discovering the joy of RVing and it is sure to be an exciting RV season ahead,” concluded Fontaine.
For more information on the RV lifestyle, please visit www.GoRVing.ca.
A group of seasonal campers at Nopiming Provincial Park says a private campground operator is charging high fees and Manitoba Conservation has turned a blind eye to it, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.
Jim Ilasewich, spokesman for the Caribou Lake Seasonal Siteholders Association, said Tuesday (Aug. 30) the province allows private contractors that operate campgrounds in provincial parks to charge whatever fees they want without requiring them to provide any of the traditional campsite services such as potable water or washroom facilities.
“It’s hard to deal with government,” Ilasewich said. “If they reply (to your complaints), they say the private operators can do whatever they want and if you don’t like it, go somewhere else.”
Ilasewich and his friends have seasonal campsites at Caribou Landing on Quesnel Lake, north of Winnipeg. Ilasewich has been going there since 1970 and some of his friends have been there since 1958. There are two other seasonal campsites in the park, at Beresford Lake and Black Lake, both of which are operated by Conservation. Seasonal fees are much lower.
Ilasewich said the association began protesting the high fees in 2000, when the former private operator raised the seasonal fee to $1,000 from $270. The seasonal campers protested to the province, pointing out the Provincial Parks Act capped fees for private operators at an amount double that charged by the province.
Ilasewich said the province ignored their complaints. They took them to the provincial ombudsman, who sided with the seasonal campers in a 2004 ruling. The province then refunded each of the 25 seasonal campers about $2,120 — a total refund of $53,000 — but later amended the legislation to allow private operators to set their own rates.
Ilasewich said a new contractor took over the site in 2010 and increased the annual fee to $1,522 from $1,000 and suggested it would climb to $2,100 next year.
“It seems that the government has no regard for the average Manitoban and has given complete control of this lake to the private sector even though this is… in a provincial park.”
Ilasewich said the former and current private contractors have not provided any amenities to the campers that weren’t put there by the province, adding the campers cleared the sites and maintain them.
Peter Slobodzian, the private contractor who operates the seasonal campground at Quesnel Lake, said he does provide amenities to the campers but refused to elaborate.
“This is free enterprise and it will be free enterprise,” Slobodzian said.
A Conservation department spokeswoman said private contractors determine their own fees. The spokeswoman said the Provincial Parks Act was amended in 2004 following the ruling by the provincial ombudsman because the government disagreed with the ombudsman’s interpretation of the legislation.
AccessCamping.com, a camping website portal with links to more than 500 campground databases across the U.S., has added links to RV clubs as well as databases of Canadian campgrounds, according to a news release.
“We think these latest additions will further enhance AccessCamping.com’s stature as a ‘must see’ website for anyone planning to visit campgrounds in North America,” said Brian Schaeffer, president and CEO of Texas Advertising, which launched the website portal a little over a month ago.
Texas Advertising launched AccessCamping.com as a web portal with links to more than 500 databases with listings of both privately owned and operated campgrounds as well as government-run campgrounds.
The newest additions include links to more than 40 RV clubs, ranging from brand-specific groups, such as the Coachmen Owners Club, Gulf Streamers International, the Jayco Travel Club, the Vintage Airstream Club and the Winnebago-Itasca Travelers Club, to clubs that cater to specific demographics, such as RVing Women, the National African American RVers Association and the International Snowbird Travel Club.
AccessCamping also added links to more than 70 Canadian campground databases that collectively list more than 2,000 public and privately owned campgrounds in Canada.
AccessCamping.com also includes links to online databases of the major campground industry directories, including those provided by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), the Trailer Life and Woodall’s North American Campground directories, as well as the websites of campground chains, such as Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) and Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts.
Schaeffer said AccessCamping.com is needed because most websites have limited campground listings. “The government run websites, for the most part, list only government run parks while the websites for campground industry associations typically limit their listings to parks that are members of their associations. As a result,” he said, “most websites only give the camping consumer a partial view of what’s out there in terms of potential camping venues. The good news about AccessCamping.com is we truly ‘pamper the camper’ by giving them more camping options than any other source.”
For more information on AccessCamping.com, contact Schaeffer at (817) 307-0129 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.