Tourism industry lobbies for pay leaving, not entering P.E.I. National Park

Dave Stewart
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Park visitor rates could be going up this year

Brackley Beach, part of the Prince Edward Island National Park. Tourism P.E.I. promotional photo by John Sylvester. Photo special to The Guardian.

The Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. (TIAPEI) believes those visiting the province’s National Park should pay on their way out, not on their way in.

TIAPEI has presented a formal proposal to Parks Canada asking the national body to consider charging people as they leave instead of stopping them as they go in.

Don Cudmore, executive director of TIAPEI, says it’s their opinion more people would use the National Park is they didn’t have to pay the flat rate.

Right now, for example, it costs a family of four $19.60 to enter P.E.I.’s National Park. Under a new proposed rate adjustment that same family will pay $20.58 this summer, if the rate adjustments are approved.

Parks Canada has entered the public consultation phase of their plan, which concludes Feb. 18. The federal government will make a decision after that. If approved, new rates will apply this coming season.

“We really think it would be a good pilot project for Parks Canada to try at the gates,’’ Cudmore told The Guardian on Wednesday in describing their pay-as-you-leave idea. “Treat it like a parking garage in that you pay for the amount of time you’re in there.’’

According to TIAPEI’s research, a family from P.E.I. might spend the entire day at the beach while a family visiting from away is more apt to spend just part of the day there yet both pay the same flat rate.

“We did some research a few years back that told us the beach experience, even for people who come to P.E.I. for a beach experience, only tend to spend two to three hours a day on the beach. They experience the other areas around the parks while they’re here.

“Should they pay the same fee for two hours as they would for eight hours?’’

Cudmore said TIAPEI is also of the opinion that Parks Canada would make money - or at least break even - by charging people for the time they spend in the park.

“We know there is a steady stream of vehicles turning around at the entry points and don’t get to visit the beach on P.E.I. It’s a part of the must-see experience for visitors but is it worth the price of admission to drive through it for an hour?’’

Cudmore isn’t exactly optimistic Parks Canada will be overly enthused about TIAPEI’s idea but, considering tourism accounts for seven per cent of the province’s gross domestic product, they need to listen.

“This is a serious, urgent issue for tourism here on Prince Edward Island because it is such a part of our product,’’ he said, referring to the proposed rate changes.

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Parks Canada, Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., The Guardian

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, P.E.I. National Park

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Recent comments

  • Please Clarify
    January 19, 2013 - 12:03

    ok people... Parks Canada is supported somewhat by our tax dollars BUT it is only fair that a little extra is charged of those WHO ACTUALLY USE THE PARK. Locals - get with the times and buy the early bird pass. Totally worth it. You are paying for washrooms, facility maintenance (shelters and trails and lifeguarding) If you don't need any of that go to another beach... maybe a provincial park... whatever. There you can contend with poor or no washroom facilities, no parking, dogs off leash and no lifeguards. (just watch your step - if you know what I mean) Some of these people who balk at a park entrance fee will think nothing of buying their smokes and booze... and incidentally if you travel further than Moncton in your lifetime you see that the PEI National Park is a BARGAIN. TAIPAI is looking around for some way to increase their bottom line ... and floating this lame idea, that many have already effectively shown to be greatly flawed, is just ONE more example of their lame brained 'vision' for that industry. It's like "We'll Come UP with a STUPID IDEA and let others figure out the logistics and deal with the hassles" Well here is an idea - Hotel and B&B owners - buy 1/2 dozen or so early bird passes and loan these to your guests for their stay as an extra service.

  • That's Lame
    January 18, 2013 - 07:17

    What is with this TAIPEI? Do they just sit around a table all day thinking up ways to annoy tourists and Islanders? How about charging $10/car at the gate and making up the rest by getting rid of TAEPEI.

  • active transportation
    January 18, 2013 - 00:49

    Only motorists are charged to use the national park. My husband and I and our kids bike in to the beach and don't pay a single cent. More should try it.

  • fred
    January 17, 2013 - 14:38

    That has got to be one of the dumbest ideas i have ever heard ! Just leave for free after 6 o clock when all the kiosks are closed .One would think the fee would be going down. They got rid of 60% of front line staff / maintenance . If you want to stay for the day / go in before 10 and leave after 6 free.

  • Sensible Shoes
    January 17, 2013 - 12:35

    TAIPEI couldn't have been thinking clearly when this idea came up. I have enjoyed PEI's National Park for over 60 years and, while I don't like to, I pay to use it. I strongly object to the pay as you leave idea because it somehow seems to be sneaky and misleading. I am an Islander who buys a seasonal pass and I make good use of it when I can. This pay per visit is really assinine, but then that is what one would expect from a group who supports HST on PEI. Sorry Mr. Cudmore and crew...you have lost credibility with this senior.

  • Fed Up
    January 17, 2013 - 12:32

    That's it - put up the fees. HST coming to raise university, funerals, clothing, footwear, home heating - should I go on? Soon no one will be able to afford to go anywhere!! And what a bright idea to charge LEAVING the beach???? Why would anyone think that is a good idea??? Just like MacLaughlin butting in saying bring in the immigrants when our chilldren/grandchildren can't get work to help pay the high (going higher with hst) fees!!! Keep going guys......Notice the ones making these decisions are living on the high hog.....lots of income? Big paycheque - and big pensions!!!

  • Seriously
    January 17, 2013 - 11:58

    “We know there is a steady stream of vehicles turning around at the entry points and don’t get to visit the beach on P.E.I." Hm. And you are going to put the price up? There is logic in that?

  • What about the S&W method?
    January 17, 2013 - 11:38

    I should be embarrassed to say this, but embarrassingly I'm not. Since the toll booth went up (what 25 years ago?) I just drive through and smile and wave. I think it's called the S&W method. Sometimes I point at a non-existent pass or something, but most of the time just flashing an idiotic smile seems to do the trick. It wards off the odd stink eye, but usually they just wave back - nice people, you know. I've never been chased yet and my "just eating at Richard's" line is always at the ready. I then park somewhere in Covehead or Dalvey Hotel, swim, meet people, etc. So far, no ticket or fine. So, if I have to pull the ol' S&W on the way out rather than the way in, so be it. Hey, how much more immoral is that from TIAPEI supporting the HST?

    • saw method
      January 17, 2013 - 12:33

      Indeed, the Smile And Wave (SAW) method of payment works quite well. It has for years. The real benefit though, is that it induces a similar rush to skipping school or sneaking a toke during the church picnic. I'd not recommend doing it in front of children, but it does bring out the child in our otherwise mundane adult existence.

    • SAW'n though the gate levies?
      January 17, 2013 - 16:32

      SAW'n through the gate is an honourable Island tradition. In fact, it's one of those unwritten Island entitlements, like flashing the political "smile and wave" or slippin' in the ol' MLA secret handshake at the levies, opps, I mean levee (Freudian slip). TIAPEI should be lobbying to make SAW'n an official tourism policy. We're entitled, and it's long overdue!

  • Reality
    January 17, 2013 - 10:41

    TIAPEI states that a family from PEI may spend the entire day at the Park but a family from away would only spend a few hours so they should be charged differently. Most families on PEI who plan on going to the Park during the year will get a seasonal pass so would not pay by the hour. Also, how would TIAPEI suggest that Parks Canada deal with people who leave the Park after the Park staff finish work for the day as these people would not pay anything? Will TIAPEI next go to other places that charge admission (e.g. Avonlea Village)and recommend that they only charge people when they leave so that people only pay for how long they are at the attraction? Watch out as next thing that will happen is that Islanders will be paying more on the Conderation Bridge and ferry since we spend more time on the Island.

  • Captain Canuck
    January 17, 2013 - 10:11

    The only reason we're paying to use the parks is because there is an entity set up to exist for the sole purpose of collecting a toll. We only pay them to take money from us. That's all. That's their job. The government effectively set them up to pan-handle with dignity because they have a "Government Job". You get that by being the right person connected to the right person. Then they lay off all the Parks Canada employees, keeping just the management and these pan-handlers.

  • Erik T
    January 17, 2013 - 10:09

    Charge admission if you must but be upfront about it and don't hit the unsuspecting as they're about to leave. This would guarantee turning a positive experience into a negative one. And what's with the nickle and diming? Twenty dollars AND fifty eight cents! C'mon folks, time for a reality check. $20 period!

  • Gerard W.
    January 17, 2013 - 09:57

    NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. This would be CORRUPT DISHONEST, SNEAKY, We have enough of this sort of corruption and underhanded crap in this LIBERAL govt. We don't need more. We never go to the National Park anymore since they started charging a fee for a Park that my and your tax dollars paid for in the first place.

  • DarrinDeveau
    January 17, 2013 - 09:39

    I would say, just go to another beach..Also considering the National Park could not even afford to groom ski trails this year, a break even scenario does not make sense. I could not even read some of the trail maps posted on site as they are not being maitained and faded out...The parks need more money, not less...another lame idea by TIAPEI.. TIAPEI Is narrow minded and focusing on the North Shore. I am an accomodation operator in the area and I am tired of TIAPEI

  • Keith Doyle
    January 17, 2013 - 09:38

    I completely agree with Bernard! Why should islanders pay to swim in the waters of their province! Absolutely ridiculous as is Islanders having to pay to visit the Mainland!! Again, absurd! But you can only blame yourselves for not doing anything about it. You might get a beef off your chest by writing to the editor of a newspaper but this gesture is meaningless when it comes to getting governments to react!

  • olly
    January 17, 2013 - 09:38

    I think it is very sad that anyone is gouged to visit this park. There are, however, many other beautiful beaches on PEI that can be visited at no cost.

  • Surprise
    January 17, 2013 - 09:37

    Surprise, so glad you had a great day at the beach and now you have to pay for it. Too many off-Islanders think that paying to get off the Island once they're on is crazy. When I try to explain that nothing's free, they suggest that paying on the way over is better. Everybody everywhere pays to start something, not end it (okay, parking). If you're an Islander, buy the season pass early in the year at the local rate. It's worth it. Parks Canada does a great job with ever-lessening resources. But TIAPEI is not thinking clearly if it thinks Parks Can is going to change the fee structure just for PEI. Best. Joke. Ever.

    • huh
      January 17, 2013 - 10:06

      As an Islander, when I leave via the bridge, am I not paying to "start" my journey? ONe way or another, you pay to cross the strait. I can't see any difference whatsoever on what side of the strait you pay your toll.

  • Billy
    January 17, 2013 - 09:22

    Just like the bridge, pay on the way off island then maybe they will stay once they see the price. If this change happens, the parks will be full of people from away.

    • SAP
      January 17, 2013 - 09:49

      Or they will leave and never come back.

  • Sylvia
    January 17, 2013 - 09:12

    We went to north shore last summer, were going to drive through National Park, and when we got to the gate and saw that we had to pay just to drive through we turned around and headed back. Living in P.E.I. we felt ripped off that we had to pay just to take a drive through on the highway.

  • Islander
    January 17, 2013 - 08:45

    Because treating our National Parks like a parking garage seems right... So does breaking even, when really all of the facilities need upgrades. Sorry, but I don't see how charging people on the way out would really work. All that would lead to is people abusing the system. As it stands, gates are only staffed for 8 hours per day, so what are you doing to do about people who stay all day, and leave after staff is gone? Let them in for free? Or are we going to put in A) Around the clock staffing - more expensive than what it's worth, or B) Implement some more job cuts and install machines instead. Food for thought.

  • Poisoned by their Position?
    January 17, 2013 - 08:42

    TIAPEI supports the HST. So, as far as most Islanders are concerned, how can their policy positions be anything but toxic and self-serving?

  • benbarr
    January 17, 2013 - 08:39

    folks the world doesn't turn on pei. you have to have some value to your product. beaches are all over atlantic canada.

  • Nor easter
    January 17, 2013 - 07:53

    What a joke this group is. LOL

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 17, 2013 - 07:52

    The province should own the parks not the feds who in turn have given complete control of the National Parks system to the criminal group called the United Nations via treaties. LOOK IT UP. It should be free to get into the parks. The United States has also signed onto the same treaty. Did you know that our National Parks had been given away to foreign control?

    • reasonable citizen
      January 18, 2013 - 00:45

      You, my friend, need help.

  • bernard
    January 17, 2013 - 07:47

    Being a citizen of prince edward island you should never have to pay to visit your own beaches and parks, should only apply to tourists. there are enough taxes paid all year long to cover them, if they miss-manage their money to bad. It is absolutely garbage to have to pay to swim in water where you live, or use the park for a day with the family. I remember growning up in Nova Scotia and we never paid to go to a park or a beach, came to pei and whole different story, they treat every single person as if they are a tourist, raking in high profits with nothing going back to make the parks better. Glad im back off the island with no desire to return.

  • jon
    January 17, 2013 - 07:33

    sure don't give the people who can't afford it a chance to turn their cars around before hand and find something a little more economically priced. Shame on them this is Nothin more than an attempt at more profit. Sad.

  • same
    January 17, 2013 - 07:23

    Same bunch that support the HST.

  • shakes head
    January 17, 2013 - 07:18

    this is such a stupid idea....

  • BEACH BUM
    January 17, 2013 - 06:36

    Seems like an overly complex way to handle collecting fees. And, if tourists aren't made 100% aware they will be paying fees departing the park, you're bound to upset a large amount of them!!

  • I Magine
    January 17, 2013 - 05:55

    You gotta remember this is the same Provincially funded group that is trying to implement a 3% room tax and now they want the Feds to lower their fees. Hopefully this will open some eyes within the tourism industry as to just how completely useless this association really is. Not even one successful tourism operator sits on the board, what a joke.

    • Janet Dawson Brock
      January 17, 2013 - 09:10

      What a shame that we have to charge at all. As a member of a family who owned a resort at Stanhope for 60 years, we found that once the government started charging our little store didn't have enough customers to drive through for an ice cream. If you want to just drive through and see the beach just maybe they would come back another year and rent a cottage. I agree that time spent there would be an appropriate thing to do. Janet (Williams) Dawson -Brock

  • Mick
    January 17, 2013 - 05:28

    Parks in Canada are owned and paid for and should be free to all Canadians for ever. Paying to see and use what we already own and maintain through taxation is nothing less than theft.

  • Cathy
    January 17, 2013 - 05:25

    I think that sounds like a good idea ,a better one would be if Islanders didnt have to pay at all,but the chances of that ever happening are slim to none! If someone wants to load up the car and go to the beach with their children for an hour to play in the sand and water i dont think they should have to pay a small fortune to do it ,given they fact that they live here,pay taxs here,etc. On the other hand i dont believe in gouging the tourists either .Sometimes less is more,in the long run you well could have more traffic if it was based on time spent like a parking area.Rather then a large flat rate.

  • too happy
    January 17, 2013 - 03:20

    There's no one left at the park to take care of anything!! The "new" management has accomplished this. Don't blame the Harper government either, this was in the works for 10 years!

  • Wade Mason
    January 16, 2013 - 23:02

    Sure let see if we can fool some people to going thinking it free and nail them leaving nice what a joke

  • Gobert Bhiz
    January 16, 2013 - 22:44

    It should cost a car-load, no matter how many in it, $2 max to use the park. If it weren't for paying park staff to hang around yelling at people to get off the dunes all day or driving up and down the road in their 8 cylinder SUVs, what you'd have left is maintenance, lifeguards and public toilets. Islanders are smart enough to know where the free beaches are, and if Parks Canada keeps asking such insane fees, the tourists will soon be as well. Once the foxes finally eat all the Piping Plovers, can we go back to using the full beach again? We get perhaps 2 months of beach weather. Let us enjoy it without a bilingual pep talk on soil erosion and endangered birds trying their best to die off. $20 per car load? What does Parks Canada think this is, Disney World? It's a beach full of rocks, driftwood and jellyfish.

  • ha ha
    January 16, 2013 - 22:30

    Ha ha - what you didn't expect was that people are smart and finally got fed up with paying huge fees and this is before the HST kicks in. Just sayin' . With the high prices of everything here re tourist season - and also living here - wait until it all goes down hill after HST kicks us all in the butt.

  • James Macgoo Lakeside
    January 16, 2013 - 22:25

    This suggestion is a very good one. Many friends from away consider a visit to the park. However, they have young children and when they consider the time they will spend at the park - usually a few hours at most - they do not see the value in going. Scaling the rate on a per hour basis may provide more business. Even the establishment of a minumum $2 rate for less than an hour. It may promote dive through traffic. Possibly scaled rates could be used during the week with full day rates on weekends.