Angry Manitoba cottagers rallied on the steps of the legislative building in Winnipeg on Thursday to protest soaring fees in provincial parks.
“This is absolutely unreasonable!” said Lucien Lussier, a cottage owner in Manitoba whose fees are going up this year.
“How can you afford it on a fixed income? My pension, my civil service pension, hasn’t gone up 40 per cent and will not go up 750 per cent in ten years,” said Lussier.
Demonstrators showed support for a bill introduced by Tory MLA Stuart Briese, which is calling on the government to be transparent about where the money is going.
Lussier and other cottage owners said the full fee hike will allow only elite Manitobans to own cabins and force many to sell their summer getaways.
Lussier’s fees for his Falcon Lake cottage are going up this year from about $1,000 to about $1,500.
The NDP government wants to modernize its provincial parks and is raising fees for cabin and cottage owners to increase revenue.
Last year, the province announced a strategy to improve its parks. Part of that was more than doubling the fees cabin and cottage owners pay. Those fee increases will be phased in over the next five years.
The province said the money will go to modernizing parks with updated washrooms, Wi-Fi at campsites and better beaches.
The average cottager currently paying about $280 a year for fees will see that number rise to $738.
Tory MLA Ralph Eichler said the bill isn’t asking the province to reverse the fees but to be clear about where the revenue raised is going.
“Accountability and transparency,” said Eichler. “I ask them to table that today. This debate could go away very easily.”