The cost of camping is rising in British Columbia provincial campgrounds.
Effective April 1, the British Columbia Ministry of Parks camping fees rise by anywhere from $1 to $6 a night, depending on the popularity of the campground, according to the Nanaimo (British Columbia) Daily News.
The fee is the first in two years. Last year British Columbia Parks cut the days of operation for many provincial parks. British Columbia Parks says in a press release the increase will allow it to maintain the “high quality service” provided in publicly owned campgrounds.
It is expected to add further hardship in what the tourism industry predicts will be another tough summer. Private operators welcome the news, however.
Backcountry aficionados see the fee hike as a cash grab by the province, while the New Democrats say after two years of service, parks users are getting less while paying more.
In announcing the new fees, British Columbia Parks said when they take effect users will now be able of reserve specific sites, something currently not available.
Greg Sorensen, a Nanaimo guide and outdoor instructor, wants to see more and better services in the campsites themselves.
“My biggest problem, it’s always the case of where is the money going,” Sorensen said. “I know when we go into the backcountry and pay $5 it doesn’t go into parks, it goes into general coffers.”
Private operators are applauding the increase, which they say will help shore up some of the price difference between publicly and privately owned campgrounds.
“We’d be supportive of them going up,” said Joss Penny, British Columbia Lodging and Campground Association spokesman. “We don’t see it as detrimental because it’s closer to the cost of maintaining them.”
Since the Liberals took power in 2001, they have increased fees while adding them in previously free services such as firewood.
Rising fees will be a “real disappointment for low-income families,” said NDP environment critic Rob Fleming.
With the Canadian dollar near par with the U.S. dollar, it’s seen as another hit for camping tourism.
“It’s just a sign of the times,” said tourism consultant Frank Bourree. “It will contribute to a slower tourism season. We’re not going to have a fantastic year.”