Nature advocacy group condemns new Manitoba fishing licence, provincial park vehicle admin fee
A Manitoba nature advocacy group has condemned new administrative fees on hunting and fishing licences and provincial park vehicle permits, saying the extra charge will keep people from enjoying nature.
The province included the new fees — $4.50 per transaction — in an announcement in April about adjusted rules in provincial parks amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The additional charge comes as part of a new online permitting system also announced in April, but the $4.50 administrative fee applies to provincial park vehicle permits and licences bought in person, too, a provincial spokesman clarified in an email Thursday.
A provincial park day permit that used to cost $5 will now cost $9.50, while a fishing licence that used to cost $19.20 will now cost $23.70.
The Manitoba Wilderness Committee called it a price gouge.
“The extra fee, they’re calling it a transaction fee but the reality is they’re just upping the price on this, there was already a transaction fee built into the prices people were paying for this,” said Eric Reder, a wilderness and water campaigner with the advocacy group.
“[The province is] creating a barrier to keep people out of the wilderness.”
“The more people that are exposed to nature and wilderness, the more people become advocates and realize that we need to protect it,” he added.
Reder realized the increased cost when he went to buy a fishing licence last week.
“We shouldn’t be charging people extra to access nature and outdoor activities,” he said, noting that while he and other outdoor enthusiasts will still buy permits and licences, others might not.
The new system has also changed the way provincial park vehicle permits are purchased — the yearly permit is now tied to two licence plates, rather than a plastic tag that hangs around rear-view mirrors. It also includes the $4.50 fee.
Reder is concerned that people who borrow or rent vehicles or use a carshare to access provincial parks will now have to pay for a day pass every time, again calling it a barrier to nature.
The province, meanwhile, has said its new system will improve data collection, be accessible 24/7 and allow people to reprint or replace licenses at home, among other points.
The angling season for most regions begins May 9.
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