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Parks Canada Consults Canadians on User Fees

GATINEAU, QUEBEC -- (Marketwire) -- 01/11/13 -- Parks Canada today launched public consultations on proposed fee adjustments which will end the five-year Parks Canada fee freeze currently in place. The revenue that is earned from user fees directly supports the quality services that visitors enjoy at national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.

"I invite Canadians to visit the Parks Canada website (www.parkscanada.gc.ca) to have a look at our fee proposals," said Alan Latourelle, Chief Executive Officer for Parks Canada. "I believe that what we have proposed is a very reasonable approach to ensuring services and programs for visitors remain economically viable and of the high quality visitors expect, and that Canadians continue to have memorable and meaningful experiences when they visit their treasured places."

Parks Canada is proposing that future fee adjustments be in accordance with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in order to respond to annual inflationary operational costs. Most fees will be limited to an adjustment not exceeding the two-year cumulative percentage of the average CPI. This would occur in two-year intervals thereafter, beginning in 2013.

At some Parks Canada places, new fees are being proposed for new services and other fee adjustments may occur for unique location-specific services to ensure they can be delivered in the future. While there will be some moderate fee adjustments, other fees may be reduced according to the level of service.

To support Canadians and tourism businesses during a difficult economic period, Parks Canada fees have been frozen at 2008 levels until March 31, 2013. For visitors, the fee freeze will end after any proposed fees have been tabled in Parliament following public consultation. The fee freeze will extend 18 months after the fee consultation processes are complete for commercial operators.

Parks Canada has over 3,300 fees for diverse services such as park and site entry, camping, interpretive programs, boat lockage, facility rentals, etc. These revenues are invested in the sites to help pay for the range of quality services and facilities that visitors use and enjoy. The expense of providing services to visitors continues to increase as a result of higher energy and other operational costs.

Parks Canada works to ensure Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and, through a network of 44 national parks, 167 national historic sites, and four national marine conservation areas, invites Canadians and people around the world to engage in personal moments of inspiring discovery at our country's treasured natural and historic places.

For additional information, please see the accompanying backgrounder at www.parkscanada.gc.ca under Media Room.

BACKGROUNDER

PARKS CANADA USER FEE CONSULTATIONS

Following a five year fee freeze, Parks Canada is proposing that many of its fees be adjusted in 2013 to keep pace with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Additional user fee modifications will result from operational changes and the introduction of new services. National historic sites that are moving to self-guided visitor activities may have their entry fees reduced or eliminated once that transition is complete, starting in 2013.

Consulting with Canadians

Parks Canada consults on all fee increases. The Agency will consult with Canadians on the national fee proposals through its website and other avenues. Any local fee proposals will be communicated to visitors and stakeholders who may be interested. Consultation and transparency is the goal of the User Fees Act and is required prior to fees being approved under the Parks Canada Agency Act.

Great value

National parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas provide experiential opportunities, and memories that last a lifetime. Visitors consistently rank their satisfaction with Parks Canada services highly. The Agency guarantees excellent value, fair prices and quality services.

Why we charge user fees

User fees help to pay for the range of services and facilities that visitors use and enjoy. Tax dollars are invested to create and preserve national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas, as this benefits all Canadians. When people visit, there is a personal benefit since they use and enjoy services and facilities, and it is fair to other taxpayers that they help to pay for them. Parks Canada has over 3,300 fees for diverse services such as park and site entry, camping, interpretive programs, boat lockage and facility rentals, among many others. Each national park, national historic site and national marine conservation area keeps the revenues earned from user fees to support visitor services and facilities. Generally, it costs more to provide high quality visitor services than the revenue that is generated from user fees. Only about 30% of the total cost of visitor programs is funded by these revenues.

Fee Freeze ends

To support Canadians and tourism businesses during a difficult economic period, Parks Canada froze its prices at 2008 levels until March 31, 2013. For visitors, the fee freeze will end after the proposed fees have been approved following public consultations. The fee freeze will extend 18 months after the fee consultation processes are complete for commercial operators.

Increased operating costs

Parks Canada faces constantly increasing operating costs to provide services to visitors.

Keeping pace with inflation

Parks Canada proposes that future fee adjustments be in accordance with the CPI. Most fees will be limited to an adjustment not exceeding the two year cumulative percentage of the average Consumer Price Index, starting in 2013 and every two years thereafter. The CPI is a measure of the rate of price change for goods and services bought by Canadian consumers. It is the most widely used indicator of price changes in Canada. The CPI is determined by Statistics Canada based on the changes over time to the cost of a fixed "basket of goods." Typically, the average CPI is approximately 2.5% annually.

Canals fee adjustments

Parks Canada is proposing a new fee structure for canals. The current fee model is no longer sustainable and requires changes to be both fiscally responsible and ensure those who receive the greatest direct benefit pay a larger share of the cost of providing service. The new fee structure for canals, based on a per use model, allows for better flexibility aligning fees with services accessed by boaters while reducing the portion of the cost that is funded by tax dollars.

Local fee adjustments

At some Parks Canada places, new fees may be introduced and other fee adjustments may occur for unique services. In some cases services may be currently under-priced with regard to the market or costs and need to be adjusted beyond CPI to ensure sustainability of the offer. In response to visitor needs and desires new services are also being introduced and fees established in accordance with the User Fees Act. The fees for these new services must be approved by the Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

Advance notice for commercial operators

In keeping with its traditional practices, for all commercial operators, the Agency provides 18 months advance notice of fee adjustments that may apply to them so that they can make appropriate changes to their own fees and itineraries. Commercial fees will not be adjusted until 18 months following the completion of the consultations and user fee submission processes and every two years thereafter using the CPI adjustment.

Fee reductions

User fee adjustments may be made to reflect new service models. As part of this, national historic sites that are moving to self-guided visitor activities entry fees may be reduced or removed once that transition is complete (list available upon request).

Contacts:
Adam Sweet
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of the Environment
819-997-1441

Media Relations
Parks Canada
819-953-8371
www.twitter.com/parkscanada

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