Manitoba reveals $200 million in park upgrades

Provincial parks in Manitoba will see $220 million in upgrades over the next several years.

At an announcement at Birds Hill Provincial Park Thursday morning the province unveiled a multi-year, multi-million-dollar plan for the parks system.

More yurts, electrical campsites, renovated washrooms and showers and improved services are all on the docket, which the government hopes will attract more guests.

“Our aim remains to improve the visitor experience,” Northern Development Minister Greg Nesbitt said.

“Manitobans have told us how much they value provincial parks and how important it is that we invest in the park system while protecting natural ecosystems and ensuring accessibility now and then into the future.”

The plan includes $121 million in infrastructure and $103 million for roadway renewal over the next 10 years.

Story continues below advertisement

The province is also spending $200 million to fix damaged areas from last year’s flooding, most in the form of bridge and culvert replacements.

Nine parks across the province will see major upgrades, including electrification of group use sites in the Spruce Woods and Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Parks and road rehabilitation in Whiteshell Provincial Park.

Up to 50 new yurts between the Asessippi and Duck Mountain Provincial Parks are expected too, with construction on them beginning as early as this year.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba to spend $1.1 million on parks'

Manitoba to spend $1.1 million on parks

Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Soceity Manitoba chapter, said the announcement comes at a good time; more and more people are going to parks.

“We definitely need more campsites, more yurts and more washrooms. We want more Manitobans to be able to enjoy our parks and these investments will increase access,” he said in a statement.

Story continues below advertisement

Eric Reder of the Wilderness Committee told Global News’ Rosanna Hempel the province needs more space, not upgraded space.

“We can’t just keep fine tuning the parks that exist. We need to grow our parks. We need more spaces to go to,” he said.

The wilderness and water campaigner added protection of the parks should be at the top of the province’s list, too. Reder said the province has yet to commit to meeting protected areas goals.

More on Science and Tech

“We need more nature-protected and also more people-powered trails so people can experience nature and understand that protection of nature is really critical for our survival…we’d like to hear (the province) commit to what the rest of the world is agreeing to.”

Kim Scherger said she feels the announcement overlooked summer camps which find a home in these parks.

“Summer camp deals so positively with improving mental health and wellness, with physical health as well for people,” Scherger, executive director of the Manitoba Camping Association, told Global News’ Rosanna Hempel.

Shereger said some camps are not operating this year due to lack of funding as a result of the pandemic, and many are still struggling as they make their way back to post-pandemic financial stability.

“So for camps to have been able to be included in that $220 million would have been a great part for the government to have done that.”

Story continues below advertisement

MGEU President Kyle Ross said the announcement missed the mark in respect to recruitment and retention of staff. Without adequate pay, parks will continue to see vacant positions, the president said.

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.