Businesses close to national parks shouldn't get a 'free ride,' says Kent - InfoNews

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Businesses close to national parks shouldn't get a 'free ride,' says Kent

A jogger makes their way along the edge of the Rideau Canal as a work crew floods the ice surface of the skateway in Ottawa on Thursday, January 5, 2012. Businesses located near national parks, historic sites and canals run by Parks Canada could be asked to pay fees to help offset upkeep and operating costs. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
August 09, 2012 - 3:33 PM

OTTAWA - Businesses located near national parks, historic sites and canals run by Parks Canada could be asked to pay fees to help offset upkeep and operating costs.

Environment Minister Peter Kent openly talked about potential fees this week, while also suggesting that a plan to cut the operating hours of those sites — in some cases by half — could be reversed or scaled back.

Kent made the comments after meeting with municipal leaders from 13 communities along Ontario's historic Rideau Canal system.

A spokesman for the minister says no decisions have been made, and that the minister was only being frank about his discussions with communities and businesses that would be affected by any changes.

Adam Sweet says the current plan to trim operating hours is still scheduled for the spring.

A number of measures are being considered to boost revenues and cut the cost of running the parks and other national tourist attractions.

While he didn't specify who might be asked to pay fees, Kent suggested to reporters in Ottawa that businesses operating in proximity to parks and canals are getting a "free ride."

The minister's comments have both union leaders and a small business group scratching their heads, and urging the government to talk with them in advance of any proposed changes.

Parks Canada operates a number of federally protected parks, marine conservation areas and dozens of historic sites across the country.

The agency adopted several cost-saving measures following the federal budget in March. However, a decision to cut operating hours was delayed for one year after businesses complained about how they would be impacted.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2012
The Canadian Press

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