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New Brunswick

It’s going to cost more to visit N.B. provincial parks this year

Prices for visiting New Brunswick’s provincial parks, campground and cabin fees are increasing this year — and in some cases doubling.

The province is also introducing a tiered pricing system.

“It doesn’t seem like a fair system,” said Salma Burney, moderator of the Camping New Brunswick Facebook group, which has about 19,500 members. She is also co-owner of a private campsite.

Burney said she saw nothing but frustration in response to cost increases at provincial parks.

“If they are owned by taxpayers, why do taxpayers have to pay twice as much to use something their taxpayers’ money went to?”

Mount Carleton Provincial Park is a popular camping and hiking destination. (Tourism New Brunswick)

For example, renting the Maple Heritage Cabin in Mount Carleton Provincial Park was $113.04 per night in August. Renting the same cabin for the same month this year is $225, almost double that, and that doesn’t include taxes.

The seasonal prices are also increasing.

A seasonal RV campground with electricity in Mactaquac Provincial Park cost $1,652.17 in 2022. This year, prices range from $2,000 to $3,250, depending on water and sewer availability and the type of power connection desired. These prices also do not include taxes.

Park admission fees increase by 50 percent from $8.70 to $13.04 plus tax.

And at Parlee Beach Provincial Park, a beach maintenance fee added to the entrance fee increases 66 percent from $2.61 to $4.35, taxes extra.

The province has also proposed increasing some of these fees annually through at least 2025.

Prime price

New Brunswick is introducing peak and off-season rates this year. According to the provincial website, May 19-22 this year and July 1-September 4 are considered high season.

That means campsites cost about 25 per cent more during these summer months and the May long weekend compared to the rest of the year.

A campground on New River Beach near Saint John with electricity and sewage is $44.00 per night in June but $55.00 per night in July. (Tourism NB)

Visiting Sugarloaf Provincial Park and using a self-service campground, a site designated for pitching a tent with no electricity or water, costs $24 during the off-season. But during high season the cost for the same place will increase to $30.

A one-night pitch at New River Beach with access to a 50-amp outlet and sewerage is $44 per night in June, rising to $55 per night in July.

“I was a little shocked to say the least,” said Matt Richard, who has had a seasonal spot at Mactaquac Provincial Park for his family’s RV for the past two years.

He said his family loved their time at the park, but watching the prices soar was a hard pill to swallow when services hadn’t improved.

“Everything’s going up, but to go from $1,750 to $2,250 now and you still don’t have a sewage connection, that’s a drastic increase.”

He said he expects he and his family to only get a campground for the occasional weekends this summer and will likely pass on seasonal camping.

“Camping is one of those nice things you can do affordable with your family,” Burney said. “It shouldn’t be prohibitive, but now they’re taking it to a level where lower-income people can’t just enjoy a simple camping trip with their family.”

The province said one of the reasons for the fee increase is the addition of “an accessible playground, washrooms and a family area” at Parlee Beach, shown here in August 2022. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Tourism, Heritage and Culture Secretary Tammy Scott-Wallace would not be questioned about the charges. Instead, spokesman Mark Taylor sent a statement about what the fee increases are paying for.

He cited new accessible family washroom buildings at several campgrounds, upgraded and winterized accommodations, “significant capital improvements to on-site power/sewer/water services” at the largest campgrounds, and “an accessible playground, washrooms, family area and other infrastructure at Parlee Beach.” . ”

The email also states: “Many of the new spring/autumn prices are lower than previous prices for the entire camping season.”

For comparison, an unserviced campground in Mactaquac Provincial Park cost $26.96 last year. This year, off-peak, the same page is $2 off. But between July 1st and September 4th and the May long weekend, it’s $30, or $3 more than last year, excluding taxes.

Burney said creating a pricing tier between July and September is aimed precisely at when kids are out of school for the summer and family vacations begin. She worries that lower-income families could suffer the most, either having to pay more or taking time away from school and work to avoid paying steeper rates.

“It can frustrate the parents because they’re trying to get everyone together,” Burney said.

Fees, Fees, Fees

Burney said she also saw negative sentiment towards rising fees.

“There is a fee for a booking and then if you cancel there is a fee for the cancellation. There is a fee for everything. They ask for firewood.

These increases come at a time when New Brunswick’s provincial parks have become very popular. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people engaged in outdoor activities increased. According to the department’s annual reports, the vast majority of campers in the provincial parks are New Brunswick residents.

This summer, some cabin prices at Mount Carleton Provincial Park will double last year's prices.
This summer, some cabin prices at Mount Carleton Provincial Park will double last year’s prices. (Shane Fowler/CBC News)

The email from the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Culture also said, “Most of the fees have not been increased for several years and these fee increases are affecting nine provincial parks.”

However, campground fees for these parks were increased in 2020, according to the province’s annual fee report. Three years ago, Mount Carleton, Mactaquac, Herring Cove, New River Beach, Parlee Beach, Sugarloaf, Murray Beach and La République provincial parks saw rates increase.

Fees will be introduced for North Lake Provincial Park, where there have been no fees since its July 1 opening.

Park entry, beach maintenance, and cabin fees were last collected in 2016.

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