Pallister privatizes provincial park for 60th anniversary

Monday, June 07, 2021

Wilderness Committee

Photo: Jeope Wolfe
Photo: Jeope Wolfe

Public access to St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park now restricted by private management 

WINNIPEG / TREATY 1 TERRITORY AND HOMELAND OF THE MÉTIS NATION  — Premier Brian Pallister’s government has privatized St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park on its sixtieth anniversary of being established. The provincial government signed a contract with a private firm during the COVID-19 pandemic that is now charging additional fees to access the public provincial park.

“Selling off management of a public park during a biodiversity crisis and premium public space during a pandemic is an outrageous move by Premier Pallister’s government,” said Wilderness and Water Campaigner Eric Reder. 

In the summer of 2020, an unprecedented number of Manitobans booked campsites and ventured to provincial parks. In July that summer, while camping interest was rocketing, the Manitoba government sent out a proposal to privatize visits to St. Ambroise Beach Provincial Park.

“Parks are critical infrastructure and should be a protected sector like health and education. This looks more like the PC government is sabotaging the conservation branch,” said Reder.

The Pallister government is illegally operating St. Ambroise Provincial Park by not creating a park management plan, as required by law under the Provincial Parks Act. Additionally, the request for proposals for St. Ambroise Beach was tendered even before a park privatization study was called for by Travel Manitoba last October. The Wilderness Committee is calling for the Travel Manitoba report to be publicized immediately.

It’s not clear how private operators will take care of nature or the at-risk species in this area, like the endangered piping plovers known to nest here. 

“Obviously, the provincial government can’t be trusted to responsibly care for nature at St. Ambroise Beach, so the federal government is going to have to step in and determine how this atrocious decision affects species at risk,” said Reder.

There are at least two other requests for proposals for privatization in Grass River Provincial Park and Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. Both of those parks have bygone management plans dating back to the 1980s.

“People can’t afford to pay every time they want to get outside. For families that want to get out to parks, fees are a cost barrier to those with lower incomes and disproportionately affect families of colour,” said Reder. “ This move completely erodes the definition of public.”

During the largest green wave we’ve seen in a generation, with unparalleled growth in outdoor recreation, the expansion of protected public lands is a critical investment for our future.

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Background:
 

St. Ambroise Beach Request for Proposal
Grass River Park Request for Proposal
Turtle Mountain Park Request for Proposal

For more information, please contact:

Eric Reder | Wilderness and Water Campaigner
204-997-8584, eric@wildernesscommittee.org

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