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Ontario Town Eyes Camping Fee Hike to Cut Losses

February 28, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

The three city-run RV parks in Sudbury, Ontario, have lost a total of $193,000 in the past five years, councillors heard Monday (Feb. 27).

For now, councillors have agreed to hike fees to stem the losses, but in the longer term may consider whether the city of 100,000 located 200 miles due north of Toronto should be in the trailer park business at all, The Sudbury Star reported.

The city operates three seasonal trailer parks — Ella Lake Park in Capreol, Whitewater Park in Azilda and Centennial Park in Whitefish.

  • Centennial Park has 47 spots and costs the city $162 a day to operate.
  • Whitewater Park has 25 spots and costs the city $240 a day to operate.
  • Ella Lake Park has 17 spots and costs the city $160 a day to operate.

All three parks are legacies of the former municipalities amalgamated into Greater Sudbury.

They are all popular and well used, staff said.

While Centennial Park operates in the black most years, Ella and Whitewater parks are consistently in the red, council heard.

Staff recommended hiking the rental fees to levels consistent with private-and provincial-run campgrounds to raise more money. They also gave councillors the option of lengthening the operating season, though that would cut into the new revenues.

Private camps charge anywhere from $1,200 to $1,600 for a seasonal camping spot and $25 to $35 for a daily rental. Provincial parks charge $1,232 to $1,464 for a seasonal spot and $29.75 to $39 for a daily rental.

The city, by contrast, charges only $867 for a seasonal camping spot and $21 for a daily rental.

Staff proposed hiking the fees to just more than $1,000 for a seasonal spot and $26 for an overnight rental.

The city’s community development committee, however, decided that wasn’t enough and agreed to hike them more.

“These are first-class facilities,” Ward 1 Councillor Jacques Barbeau said, adding they provide a level of service other campgrounds don’t.

For example, the city-run parks do not charge extra for sheds and trailers erected on the sites, for extra refrigerators that run all season or for waste disposal. Other parks do, Barbeau said.

As well, some users have asked to extend the season at the campgrounds, both earlier in May and later in September.

In the end, the committee agreed to lengthen the season by 18 days and increase user fees so they match the fees of provincial parks, or about $1,200 a season. The changes will take effect this season.

Lengthening the season will increase costs by $10,000 a year and the new fees are expected to generate about $34,000 a year, staff say.

The committee also warned this could be temporary.

Committee chairman Frances Caldarelli said now the trailer parks have been brought to council’s attention, it seems likely someone will ask to review whether the city needs to be in trailer park business at all.

It could a be tough sell to residents who’ve grown to appreciate the parks and the service the city offers, but the three campgrounds could be leased or sold to the private sector and people could still enjoy them, Barbeau said.

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