Editorial: Campsite fees not worth the gripe

Campsite fees are going up between $2 and $5 at provincial parks around B.C. this spring

Campsite fees are going up between $2 and $5 at provincial parks around B.C. this spring.

After March 15, a night under the stars at Goldstream Provincial Park goes from $30 to $35 per night, while many more remote campsites will see a smaller increase in fees.

Fees at 40 provincial campgrounds in the Kootenay-Okanagan, Northern, South Coast and West Coast regions are increasing at least $3 a night, and 141 of B.C.’s 204 provincial campgrounds will see a $2 increase.

The Ministry of Environment says this is the first province-wide increase in fees since 2010, and let’s be honest: it is a nominal fee.

So when B.C. NDP house leader Mike Farnworth grouped those fees into a criticism of the B.C. Liberal “hidden tax” agenda last week, it played a bit flat.

“You’re going to see higher Medical Services Plan premiums, higher ICBC rates, we’re already seeing higher fees for camping,” Farnworth said in response to the Liberals’ assertion that they’ll have a surplus larger than the $444 million forecast in November when they present the annual budget on Feb. 17.

The province collected about $17 million from its park and recreation fees last year, while spending $22 million on direct park operating costs.

Campsite use is on the rise in B.C. since the introduction of an online reservation service called Discover Camping, and the system handled 133,000 reservations last year, nearly a 10 per cent increase over 2013.

The opposition is right to call out the government for pocketing extra cash through medical premiums and higher ICBC rates while it trumpets fiscal prudence. But wrapping $2 camping fees into a criticism of government finance policy is just lame. No one is going to break the bank on camping this summer because of a small increase, and if those nominal fees mean a better and well-maintained camping system across B.C. for the next generation, you can rest assured most people will be willing to throw in the extra toonie or $5 bill.

 

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