Every spring, Manitoban campers, and outdoor enthusiasts eagerly log on to reserve campsites, often facing disappointment as the limited number of high-demand accommodations, such as yurts and cabins, are booked within minutes.
Booking a campsite has become as competitive as buying concert tickets online. This year, however, camper Megan Maxwell managed to secure a spot in the electronic queue seconds after reservations opened.
Demand for upscale camping options such as cabins, yurts, and serviced campsites has far exceeded supply in Manitoba for years. The provincial government is now addressing this issue with a 10-year CA$110-million infrastructure plan, set to be formally announced later this year following public consultations. The Minister for Natural Resources, Greg Nesbitt, said, “You give them 50 yurts, and they want 100. And that’s what we intend to do is keep expanding parks to meet the demand.”
The government commissioned a consultant’s report, completed in December, which recommends more camping opportunities, particularly luxury options like yurts and cabins. According to the report, Birds Hill Provincial Park, a popular site north of Winnipeg, could use 50 yurts. Nesbitt hinted that the government may act on that proposal when it releases its annual short-term infrastructure plan in May.
The consultant’s report also suggests raising fees at parks to recover more of the costs. The report proposes a sharper increase in luxury camping rates and a limited increase in rates for basic campsites.
To ensure access for low-income earners, the government could make free park entry passes available through libraries. Nesbitt stated that the government is not currently considering increasing fees, but a future increase is likely.
Featured image from Manitoba Parks.