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Lord Selkirk Park
Local group signs five-year lease deal to add campground to scenic package
There can be little argument that the Lord Selkirk Park near Eldon is one of the most scenic provincial parks on P.E.I. It is near the soaring red cliffs which help define the adjacent Belfast Highland Greens golf course. The park has a pool, large campground and is well known as the home of the Highland Games each year in honour of the area’s Scottish settlers. The ship Polly carrying settlers from Scotland landed at nearby Orwell Bay and the landmark Belfast Presbyterian Church has long been a testament to the faith and courage of those early settlers.
So it comes as a surprise that the park has been struggling to attract campers and visitors. Tourism Minister Robert Henderson says Lord Selkirk had been one of P.E.I.’s most underperforming parks, losing between $55,000 to $75,000 annually on the campground.
Our provincial parks might not make money but they are essential components of our provincial tourism industry. They are welcome green spaces that dot the landscape and many are home to local historical elements that need protection.
The province has decided to lease the Lord Selkirk Park to the Belfast Community Development Corporation (BCDC) in an attempt to boost the struggling campground. There is a five-year lease agreement in place, sweetened by grants over two years from the Department of Tourism and Culture. There is good reason to hope the lease agreement will be a success and the local group is able to keep this important facility operational. The park provides local employment opportunities and that is very important in rural P.E.I.
BCDC now controls the golf course, campground, pool and mini-putt operations. It will allow marketing the combined properties as a single family-friendly destination for campers and golfers. The local group says its excited for the opportunity to take control of one of the area’s most important tourism products.
Both parties hope this lease arrangement will be as successful as other deals at Green Park and Campbell’s Cove, both owned by the province but run privately. But if the five-year lease deal doesn’t work out, the province should remember that it has an obligation to ensure the park continues to operate because campgrounds are essential provincial assets.
No gas shortages in U.S.
A former chief economic analyst for Stats Canada says the negative impact of a weaker loonie outweighs any benefits. The loonie has dropped below 90 cents U.S. which is good news for Canadian exporters who will sell more into the American market. But the analyst argues that a weaker loonie triggers higher domestic prices, which hit consumers in the wallet. Certain commodities like gasoline are priced in U.S. dollars so when the loonie drops, people pay more at the pumps. Fresh fruit and other foodstuffs will also be higher.
Islanders returning home from Florida vacations this spring were amazed at the price of gas in the U.S. where vehicles can fill up for $20 to $25 US. The price of gas in Florida has been rated at just over half what we pay here on P.E.I. If that’s the case, why has IRAC argued all winter that part of the reason for higher prices on the Island for gas and heating oil is that U.S. refineries were down for repairs or maintenance, plus demand was higher because of a cold winter in the U.S. northeast, all leading to shortages and higher prices. Those dual hits somehow missed our American friends. It’s time Canadian refineries looked after Canadians first instead of shipping overseas because they can get higher prices in Europe.