Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Remember Camping?

“The national parks of Canada are a source of pride for Canadians and an integral part of our identity, they celebrate the beauty and infinite variety of our land.”
I’ve just come out of a National Park. That statement should include the words “…for those that can afford to use them.”
Call me a Liberal or a Socialist or whatever you will, but it would seem to me that a National Park should be accessible to every person that lives in that particular nation. To access a National Park of Canada, you need to have a Parks Pass ($89 per year). If you’re going to actually use any of the amenities in the Park, open your wallet. Here’s the tally from an 8 night tent camping trip in one of our larger National Parks.

Parks Canada annual pass $ 89
Tenting fees @ $17/night $136
Fire permit @$2/night $ 16
Fishing permit (two people, one week) $ 28
GST @7% $ 18.83
Total payable to Parks Canada $287.83

Now, that’s not particularly expensive on the face of it. However, there are a bunch of people in this country who couldn’t afford that $287 + $125 in gas to get there and back, + $200 in food, propane etc…. I have no problem paying for access –especially when the money goes to protect the park, run interpretive programs and so forth. What really gets me is that there is no incentive for a Canadian to use their own park system. As a Canadian, I pay the same rates to use my national resource as does a tourist from another country. Why not lower the user fees for Canadians and charge everybody else a little more. That way, you’d open the parks and their wonders to a broader range of citizens who might otherwise choose a less expensive holiday option.

O.K., so I'm into this little family vacation for $600 (ish) in hard costs, maybe another $300 in soft costs (snack food, emergency fleece hoodies, coffee and cinnamon buns in the bakery in town, food on the road, fishing lures etc...) and we're having a great time depsite the couple of days of crappy weather. We visited the Nature Centre, went fishing, saw the museum, played on the beach, saw a ton of cool wildlife and generally had a successful trip. I'd say we got our money's worth.

However, one night I'm in the camp bathroom, brushing my teeth when I look over and see a kid (maybe 12-14) reading a comic book and playing with an electronic gizmo of some sort. Turns out he's from two sights down (I saw the 30 foot 5th wheel trailer he was staying in) and he was wasting 1 1/2 hours charging his laptop so he could play a computer game. This is a big park with lots to do, not to mention the fact that his (and all) the campsites have fire pits to sit around and roast hot dogs and marshmallows, drink beer and coffee etc... . But no, this kid's family dragged him into northern Canada so he could play video games in the forest.

For $900 they could've bought him a new computer and saved themselves a pile of gas.


Blogger deeol said...

Well, I did offer you my extra wiffle bat. Should have taken it.

6:47 p.m.  
Blogger Mel said...

Who would he have wiffled though - the boy, the parents or the people taking his money?

3:20 p.m.  

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