Provincial park fees increasing

Nathan Liewicki
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Rates going up for first time since 2009

Saskatchewan provincial park fees are going up for the first time in five years, the government announced Tuesday.

Buffalo Pound Provincial Park

The province is coming off a record-setting year with 3.7 million visitations at its provincial parks, but Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Kevin Doherty told the Times-Herald those numbers did not directly result in the fee increases.

“(It’s) not directly the result of the record-setting numbers,” said Doherty. “What we have seen is when we have record attendance there is greater costs associated with operating our provincial parks.”

He admitted there was an indirect cost associated with the record number of provincial park visitors and the rate increases, but noted that wasn’t the reason they were made.

“The basic reason why we adjusted the fees at this particular time first and foremost was to get the news out ahead of the people wanting to book their campsites coming up at the end of (January) for seasonal campsites, and the first week of March for all other campsites in the province,” said Doherty. “We want to let people know what they can expect to pay.”

The majority of changes will affect nightly and seasonal camping rates.

Nightly electric campsites will increase from $22 to $27, an increase of 22.7 per cent. Conversely, park-attendees choosing to dwell on a full service nightly campsite electric, sewer and water will fork over $35, $9 more than they did in 2013.

Seasonal electric ($1,500 to $1,900), non-electric ($760 to $950) and economy ($590 to $750) rates will all experience hikes ranging from 25 to 26.7 per cent.

“For a family that is going to go out and camp for seven days this coming camping season, it will cost them an extra $35 for that seven-day camping experience at one of our provincial parks,” Doherty said. “We think that is reasonable and that is still very affordable for families to get out and enjoy our provincial parks.”

Costs to operate the 21 seasonal provincial parks have increased 42 per cent since 2007, and that figure is only expected to go up.

“We’ve got more and more people using our parks, but we’ve got more campsites coming on stream,” said Doherty. “With more campsites being electrified, there are more costs associated with that.”

He also noted more maintenance work and more employees at the parks have increased the operating costs associated with them. According to Doherty, they were between $24 million and $25 million last year.

Swimming lessons will also cost park visitors $35 in 2014, up $10 from last year.

Buffalo Pound Provincial Park is one of only three provincial parks that have swimming pools, so those increases will be levied there.

In addition to increased costs to use Buffalo Pound’s “tea pool,” daily, weekly and seasonal rates for adults and families will also be going up this year.

For example, a seasonal family swimming pool pass, which cost $77 in 2013, will now cost $150 in 2014. That’s a 94.8 per cent increase.

Wendy Coons, a park clerk at Buffalo Pound, said she didn’t think the cost increases would impact them too much.

“I don’t think this is going to impact us too much being so close to Regina and Moose Jaw,” she said. “We have a lot of campers that come out year after year.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

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