Prices for visiting New Brunswick’s state parks have gone up, and in some cases doubled, along with campground and cabin prices this year.
The state is also introducing a tiered pricing system.
“I don’t think it’s a fair system,” said Salma Burney, moderator of the Camping New Brunswick Facebook group, which has about 19,500 members.
Birney said he has seen nothing but frustration in response to increased costs at state parks.
“If they are owned by the taxpayer, why should the taxpayer have to pay double the cost to use the places where the tax money was spent?”
For example, renting the Maple Heritage Cabin in Mount Carlton State Park cost $113.04 a night in August. Renting the same cabin for the same month this year would cost about double $225. This does not include taxes.
Seasonal rates have also increased.
An electric, seasonal RV campground at Mactaquac Provincial Park cost $1,652.17 in 2022. Prices this year range from $2,000 to $3,250, depending on the availability of water and wastewater and the type of electrical connection requested. Again, these prices do not include tax.
Park entrance fees are subject to a 50% tax increase from $8.70 to $13.04.
Purley Beach State Park will also increase the Beach Management Fee, which is added to the admission fee by 66% from $2.61 to $4.35, plus additional taxes.
The state is also proposing to raise some of these fees annually until at least 2025.
New Brunswick is introducing high season and low season rates this year. According to the state website, this year he is considered high season from May 19 to 22 and he from July 1 to September 4.
This means that during the summer months and the long weekends of May, campground costs are about 25% higher than the rest of the year.
Visiting Sugar Loaf State Park and using the unserviced campgrounds (designated areas for pitching tents with no electricity or water) will cost you $24 during low season. However, during high season the same spot will cost you $30.
A nightly site at New River Beach with a 50 amp outlet and sewer access costs $44 a night in June, rising to $55 a night in July.
“It was a bit of a shock, to say the least,” said Matt Richard, who has had a seasonal spot at Mactaquac Provincial Park for his family campervan for the past two years.
His family said they enjoy their time at the park, but when service isn’t improving, seeing prices go up is a tough pill to swallow.
“Everything is going up, but when you go from $1,750 to $2,250 today, you still don’t have a sewer connection. That’s a dramatic increase.”
He anticipates that he and his family will likely abandon seasonal camping this summer, only getting campsites for the occasional weekend.
“Camping is one of the great affordable things you can do with your family,” Barney said. It’s gotten to a level where I can’t enjoy camping trips.”
Tourism, Heritage and Culture Minister Tammy Scott Wallace was not available for an interview about fees.
He has invested in new accessible family washroom buildings, upgrades and winter shelters at several campgrounds, and significant capital investment in “onsite power/sewage/water services” at the largest campground. improvements,” and “accessible playgrounds, washrooms, family areas, and other infrastructure at Pearly Beach.”
The email also said, “Many of the new spring/fall rates are lower than previous rates for the entire camping season.”
By comparison, an unserviced tent site at Mactaquac Provincial Park was $26.96 last year. This year, the same site is $2 less than the high season. But from July 1st to September 4th and the long weekend in May, it will be $30 before tax, or $3 more than last year.
By creating a price range between July and September, Barney said it targets precisely when kids are out of school for the summer and family vacations begin. She fears that low-income families will suffer the most.
“Parents are trying to get everyone together, which can be frustrating,” Barney said.
fees, fees, fees
Barney said sentiment about fee hikes has also worsened.
“There’s a fee for booking, there’s a cancellation fee if you cancel. There’s a fee for everything. They charge for firewood. They charge for this, they charge for that, nickel and dime. I will bill you,” said Mr. Barney. .
These increases come at a time when New Brunswick’s state parks have become very popular. Outdoor activities increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of state park campers are New Brunswick residents, according to the department’s annual report.
An email from the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Culture also said, “Most fees have not been increased in several years, and these fee increases are affecting nine state parks.”
However, fees for campgrounds at these parks have increased in 2020, according to the state’s annual report on fees. Mount Carlton, MacTquack, Herring Cove, New River Beach, Pearly Beach, Sugarloaf, Murray Beach, and Larre Public State Park saw he increase prices three years ago.
Fees will be introduced at North Lake State Park, which has had no fees since it opened last July 1st.
Park admission fees, beach maintenance fees and cabin fees were last increased in 2016.