Visitation to provincial parks set a new record in 2015 with nearly 3.9 million visits, while the Government of Saskatchewan fulfilled its commitment of investing an additional $10 million over four years into the provincial park system. Preparations are underway for another busy year in 2016.
“We have seen continued increases in our visitation and we work hard to provide a high-quality experience for every visitor,” Parks, Culture and Sport Minister Mark Docherty said. “Costs to operate the provincial parks continue to increase, and in order to continue to provide a high level of service to a steadily-increasing number of visitors, minor adjustments to some fees have been made.”
Park user fees cover approximately 60 per cent of operating costs, a balance that has been found sustainable while allowing significant recreation opportunities to park users in the province. There have been minor increases to nightly camping, seasonal camping, group camping and vehicle entry permits. Price adjustments are as follows: $1 for nightly camping; $1-$5 for entry permits; $4-$8 for group camping; and $30-$75 for seasonal camping. Fees for swimming lessons and organized youth group camping trips will remain the same as 2015.
A marginal increase in park entry fees represents the first time fees have changed in more than 10 years.
A full description of the new fees is available on the SaskParks website at http://www.saskparks.net/fees.
Saskatchewan does not have an additional charge for firewood for campfires, unlike other jurisdictions. The nightly camping fee remains similar to Manitoba and lower than Alberta and British Columbia.
The 2016 nightly camping reservation launch will occur in April of this year. As in past years, the launch will be staggered over a 10 day period with a queuing system in place during peak hours. More information, including a schedule for when each park will open for reservations, will be announced later this month.
Applications for seasonal camping are now available online at http://www.saskparks.net. This very popular program is available at 20 provincial parks and offers the opportunity to secure a campsite from May to September at most locations. The deadline for applications is Thursday, January 28, 2016. Seasonal campsites are allocated by a lottery system and will be awarded on Monday, February 1, 2016.
Since 2007-08, the Government of Saskatchewan has invested nearly $92 million in upgrades and improvements to provincial park infrastructure. Projects undertaken include the development of two new campgrounds, upgrading or replacement of service centres, extensive campsite electrical expansion and upgrading, water and wastewater system upgrades, new and enhanced boat launches, and new campsite furnishings.