New Brunswick

Concern grows over planned privatization of provincial park operation

A plan to privatize the operation of Murray Beach Provincial Park has many residents in the area concerned

A tender process for Murray Beach Provincial Park will begin in the fall

A plan to privatize the operation of Murray Beach Provincial Park has many residents in the area concerned.

A plan to privatize the operation of Murray Beach Provincial Park has many residents in the area concerned.

A tender will be called this fall.

The area also saw the closure of the tourist information centre in Aulac this year. The tourism centre in Cape Jourimain closed three years ago.

"It just feels like the province is doing everything it can to take away all tangible signs of itself in the area," said Stephen Robb, a resident of Little Shemogue.

Stephen Robb fears jobs at the provincial park won't survive private operation. (submitted)

"It's important that there be provincial representation here. I see it every day — how neglected this area is by the province," he said.

Jobs at risk?

The park provides a handful of jobs, which Robb fears won't survive private operation.

"I think that's a pretty sure thing that they won't have 10 seasonal employees plus four students, and with benefits and the part-time provincial pension.

"I don't think anybody believes that the private operator is going to be able to maintain those jobs."

Megan Mitton, the MLA for Memramcook-Tantramar, said the plan has many residents worried.

"There's a concern about what that will mean for the jobs at Murray Beach Provincial Park," she said. "There are people … that have been working there for quite a long time and and there's no guarantees that their jobs will be secure." 

'Lack of a plan'

She said it all points to a bigger problem in the area.

"It seems that, unfortunately, there's a lack of a plan around tourism, especially in this area, and we've seen it really with consecutive governments." 

Murray Beach Provincial Park is the smallest of eight parks operated by the province.

In a statement, spokesperson Stephanie Bilodeau said the province will save $147,000 a year in operating costs by privatizing. 

The park will continue to have provincial park status.

 

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