Recent Pallister government deals revealed in provincial parks are ‘Privatization, pure and simple’
Jun 10, 2021
The Pallister government is privatizing Manitoba’s provincial parks with deals surfacing this week in the media about contracts awarded to two different private developers to operate in provincial parks.
In Turtle Mountain Provincial Park, Manitoba has signed an agreement to allow a private company to build and operate up to three non-serviced cabins near Adam Lake, as part of a reported five-year pilot project (source: Winnipeg Free Press).
Meanwhile, at St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park, some visitors were told this past weekend that their provincial park passes were invalid because of a new 21-year lease agreement recently signed with a private company that would now be operating services at the provincial park. Some St. Ambroise beachgoers reported being stopped by someone at a makeshift checkpoint, demanding $10 to enter the park, even though they had already paid for, and shown, their provincial park pass.
The government and the operator chalked this up to what they called some “confusion,” but MGEU President, Michelle Gawronsky says this is just an example of what Manitobans can expect when the government sells off provincial assets and public services to private interests.
“These are public spaces that all Manitobans own. That means they must be accessible for all Manitobans to enjoy, not turned into a business opportunity for a select few to profit from,” said Gawronsky. “I don’t recall that selling off our parks in bits and pieces was something this government campaigned on in the last election, and I think that’s because they know the majority of Manitobans aren’t in favour of what they’re doing here,” she added.
A recent Probe Research survey commissioned by MGEU confirms that Manitobans are overwhelmingly against privatizing Manitoba’s parks, with 71% of respondents saying they’re opposed to transferring the management of parks to the private sector.
"As the cultural, health, and environmental benefits of provincial parks are critical to our well-being, they must remain affordable and accessible for all. Privatizing the campground at St. Ambroise park is a backward step as the elevated price tag means many individuals and families are excluded from staying there," said Ron Thiessen, Executive Director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Manitoba Chapter.
Gawronsky says that when pushed to reveal their plans for privatizing parks over the past year, the government has tried to claim Manitoba’s parks ‘aren’t for sale.’ But with these new deals being revealed, it's difficult to believe that's true.
“What else can you call this? Services are being sold to the private sector and now Manitobans who want to enjoy our public spaces could be looking at some potentially big jumps in prices. This is privatization, pure and simple.”
MGEU and CPAWS Manitoba are calling on the government to
stop privatizing Manitoba’s provincial parks. Please go to https://e-activist.com/page/70247/action/1 to show your support and remind the government that parks are for people - not