Nova Scotia

Provincial parks hard for N.S. to maintain

It's becoming increasingly difficult for the province to maintain each of Nova Scotia's 120 provincial parks at a cost of about $3 million a year in total.

It's becoming increasingly difficult for the province to maintain each of Nova Scotia's 120 provincial parks at a cost of about $3 million a year in total, according to a strategy released by the Department of Natural Resources.

Laurie Park near Fall River is one of 120 provincial parks in Nova Scotia. (CBC)
The strategy said park profits come mostly from camping fees, with one community-operated park charging an entrance fee.

The revenues are about $1 million a year combined — about $2 million less than what is required to keep parks clean, pay park staff and keep the campgrounds, washrooms, boardwalks, roads, and other conveniences for public use.

Provincial parks have more than 1.5 million visitors each year. Almost all of the parks they're using are free.

The province said it won't change anything until it has consulted with the public. Those talks will start next spring.

"I can't say at this point if there will be any closures but that'll depend on the communities, on the people who are involved, on the statistical analysis of usage and so on. The people of the province will determine what they want in their parks," said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker.

But the strategy, released Tuesday, said there's little money for anything but critical repairs.

"Nova Scotians want more from the parks than the Nova Scotia government can realistically afford to deliver. There are not enough people and funds to maintain or expand all the existing washrooms, trails, campsites, and other park structures," said the strategy.

The wilderness coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre argues parks should be a higher priority.

The Ecology Action Centre's Raymond Plourde said he worries provincial parks will begin to close due to lack of funds for upkeep. (CBC)
"Signalling that we don't have enough money so we're going to have to make some tough choices, it sounds like we might lose some provincial parks," said Raymond Plourde.

"That runs counter to what the public said in the consultation — which is that we highly value our provincial parks and we don't want them lowered, we want them enhanced."

With the large number of parks in the province, the province expects the consultation process to last for the next few years.