June 17, 2022
Treaty 1 and Dakota Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg MB--After the PC government sold off St. Ambroise Provincial Park to a private corporation and increased fees for provincial park passes, the government is now refusing to release the results of a review aimed at divesting public assets and opening the door to more private sector administration of parks.
“Provincial parks are at the heart of our Manitoba summers, whether you’re camping, going to the beach or hanging out at the family cottage. These spaces need to be protected and invested in, not sold off to businesses who can jack up fees,” said NDP Environment and Climate Change critic Lisa Naylor. “The PCs have a plan to privatize some of our most beloved parks but they refuse to tell Manitobans which ones. They should stop hiding and release this review today.”
In October 2020 the province hired a consultant to conduct a “Parks Sustainability Review”. The results of the review were presented to government months ago, but the PCs refuse to make it public.
The review evaluated all seventy-six parks for their business feasibility and identified “what investment (public and private) is needed to make the top five parks viable”. It examined fees and facilities for campers, day trippers and cottage owners who own property on provincial park land. It also contemplated reducing the number of provincial parks by decommissioning sites or “transitioning parks to other models”.
In June 2021 the province sold St. Ambroise Provincial Park to a private business, who immediately introduced fees for beach access. Because the PCs hired a Texas company to take over processing online park passes, more than a million dollars has been gone to an American business instead of improving parks.
“Manitobans shouldn’t have to pay an out-of-country business to enjoy Manitoba parks. But instead of fixing that problem the PCs are going even further,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “The PC approach to privatizing parks will mean higher fees for families to enjoy the outdoors and new headaches for cottage owners. The PCs need to abandon their privatization plan and keep these parks accessible and affordable for everyone.”