Parks free for 2017

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Joe MacDonald chainsaws through some downed trees. Parks Canada crews are undertaking work in Prince Edward Island National Park along the Bubbling Springs and Farmlands trails to improve public safety and to restore the native Acadian Forest. Crews are cutting standing dead trees, limbing downed trees and taking measures to encourage the growth of existing yellow birch, white birch, poplar and red maple trees.

Parks Canada is getting Islanders thinking about summer by officially confirming a set of National Park admission policies developed by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.

"All Parks Canada Discovery Passes purchased in 2016 will be valid for 24 months from the date of purchase," said Barbara MacDonald, external relations manager for Parks Canada on P.E.I.

Also new this year is early booking for campsites at Cavendish and Stanhope camp grounds inside the National Park.

Reservations will now be taken starting Jan. 26 beginning at 8 a.m.

This is in contrast with past years when reservations would only be taken starting in April.

The announcement about Discovery passes, a Canadawide program, also applies to the more specific P.E.I. National Park seasonal pass, says Parks Canada.

MacDonald's announcement is identical to a national press release from Parks Canada issued from Ottawa recently on the same topic. It brings into effect one paragraph from the mandate letter Trudeau gave to MP Catherine McKenna when she was appointed minister of Environment and Climate Change, which is responsible for Parks Canada.

"Make admission for all visitors to National Parks free in 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation," said Trudeau to McKenna.

There is no mention in his letter about how to make up for lost revenue.

Parks Canada's website includes some financial data showing that it predicts entrance fees will bring in $61 million across Canada this financial year ending in March, about eight per cent of total forecast expenses.

MacDonald told The Guardian that Parks Canada is working on other parts of Trudeau's mandate, like having children under 18 always get into all National Parks for free, which should come into effect by 2018.

Trudeau also mentioned new citizens getting encouragement to attend National Parks, and MacDonald says Parks Canada is ready.

"A gift to each Canadian citizen during their first year of citizenship, the Cultural Access Pass, provides complimentary admission to more than 1,200 of Canada’s cultural treasures from coast-to-coast," she said.

The cultural pass is a program provided through the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national, non-profit organization that helps new citizens integrate into Canadian life.

Organizations: Parks Canada, National Parks, Institute for Canadian Citizenship

Geographic location: Canada, P.E.I. National Park, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Fed up
    January 22, 2016 - 18:39

    NEW citizens get in free?!? When we have paid to get in for YEARS?!? And, Bill, regardless of what Parks Canada released about how great Trudeau's idea is? Garth is correct...it DID originate from Harper!! Trudeau too busy travelling the world with his army....plus family...to send out ideas!

  • Matilda
    January 21, 2016 - 20:14

    Headline saying parks free for 2017 is a bit misleading if they are only free to those who purchase a park pass for 2016. Please correct me I'm wrong.

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    January 21, 2016 - 18:35

    Good Idea but don't understand the need to have it come into effect 2017-2018 . Why not now if it's so important . Funny how politicians love to promote stuff that will not take effect or come into being for years down the road . Guess they hope things will change so they can find an excuse to scrap the plan .

    • Nate
      January 22, 2016 - 08:21

      In 2017, Canada will celebrate 150 years as a nation. Seems like a good reason to waive entrance fees for the year.

  • Garth Staples
    January 21, 2016 - 15:20

    The free programme was developed for the Harper Govt.

    • Bill MacIsaac
      January 21, 2016 - 17:28

      Geeze Garth, a quick Google search would have saved you from making a fool of yourself - again. This was a Trudeau government initiative according to the Parks Canada website. Parks Canada says that it was a "recommendation made by the new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his mandate letter to the new Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna. Harper is gone so you can stop boot licking the Tories.

    • Garth Staples
      January 21, 2016 - 18:19

      Poor Bill. Gotcha!

  • laurent Beaulieu
    January 21, 2016 - 09:10

    All great ideas to encourage people to visit and enjoy the Parks.