Home » The Canadian Press » Manitoba Releases Plan for More Camping Options and Park Upgrades

Manitoba Releases Plan for More Camping Options and Park Upgrades

May 18, 2023 4:39 PM | The Canadian Press

By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Yurt - Camping

A yurt in Stephenfield Provincial Park in Manitoba is shown on July 14, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Lambert)

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is promising more camping, better washrooms and other upgrades at provincial parks to address growing demand from people who want to enjoy the great outdoors.

The 10-year, $121-million pledge includes 45 new yurts. There are about 100 yurts – hard-roof structures with lighting, furniture and electrical outlets — in provincial parks. Demand for them is so high, reservations for the entire season are booked within minutes on opening day each year.

“We know that the public demand is there,” Natural Resources Minister Greg Nesbitt said Thursday.

The promise follows a consultant’s report last year that cited a need for more comfort-camping options such as yurts, cabins and campsites with electrical hookups. The report said Birds Hill Provincial Park, just north of Winnipeg, could accommodate 50 new yurts.

That park may see yurts in future years, Nesbitt said, but for the next couple of years, yurts will be added in two parks in western Manitoba — Asessippi and Duck Mountain.

The plan also includes adding electrical service to campsites in several parks, building washrooms in some remote parks and adding water treatment plants in places such as Tulabi Falls campground, where potable water is in short supply.

The plan also calls for new amenities on the Mantario Trail, a popular multi-day hike along the Ontario boundary.

Nesbitt said park and campground fees won’t rise in the immediate future. The consultant’s report called for an increase, and pointed to the fact that Manitoba’s rate of $55 a night for a yurt is half as much as what the federal government charges in a national park.

“I think the public wants to see value for their money. And I think that we’ll be looking at the fee structure moving forward, but for right now, we have no plans to increase fees at the present time,” Nesbitt said.

Critics accused the Progressive Conservative government of making big promises with an election looming in October after years of not improving park services.

“Manitobans want a government that cares about our parks, not one that issues empty press releases three months before an election,” NDP environment critic Mark Wasyliw said in a prepared written statement.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees Union said the province is facing staff shortages due in part to low pay.

“More campsites and yurts are a good start, but we also need the staff to maintain our parks,” union president Kyle Ross said in a press release.

“I was recently in Swan River talking to members who said the new McDonald’s (restaurant) is hiring at $17 per hour, while starting wage for a park attendant is $15.80 for seasonal work. How do you attract folks for that pay rate?”

The pre-election promise of more and better camping may ring a bell with Manitoba voters. In the 2016 election campaign, the governing New Democrats promised to double the number of yurts in the province. The NDP lost the election a few weeks later.

CP - The Canadian Press

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