New WCA Member Discounts are Available! Click for more information

The Park Districts Service Fee System

Posted on: March 25, 2014  |   ,

The WCA has been working hard for over ten years to have the Park Districts Service Fee system made fair, transparent and equitable. Manitoba Conservation’s position has been that a slow approach should be taken in revising the system. Of course it was not eager to change a system that had much of its appropriate share of service costs borne by other park user groups.

Throughout this period our efforts have also been vigorously opposed by business associations in the park which have rejected anything other than maintenance of the status quo. This is understandable given that, when the system was implemented, businesses were reportedly given the opportunity to individually negotiate favorable service fees, based on what each was willing to pay in a simple low-medium-high usage system. After government and business decided what amounts they were comfortable paying for their respective operations, the balance of all service costs was allocated primarily to cottagers.

The problem is that where the government decides to subsidize a particular user category, that expense is expected to be offset by increasing the revenue collected from other user groups in a park. This has been accomplished through the unfair and arbitrary park share systems, whereas such subsidies should be funded by the province as a whole.  It is essentially a system of taxation without representation and with no one to be held accountable as the affected cottagers’ votes are spread over a multitude of provincial electoral ridings. There is no functioning formal mechanism to guarantee that the input of those who are being taxed will be given due consideration.

It is a point of interest that, even though the Parks Branch of Manitoba Conservation behaves as if to balance revenue and expenses internally, fees collected in Manitoba parks do not necessarily go back into those parks. This includes the controversial vehicle permit fees which may be reinstated for 2012. All fees collected are placed into the province’s General Revenue account and then allocated as the governmentsees fit.

Over the last several years there has been some government activity on revising the Park Districts Service Fee system. This has been in response to the initiation of legal action against the Government of Manitoba by the WCA as a result of the current government’s continued refusal to comply with section 18(2) of The Provincial Parks Act with respect to holding annual budget consultations with cottagers.

Government claimed that its previous accounting system was inadequate, so a new expense recording system has been implemented to ensure that nothing is missed, down to the last brush cutter blade.  This was to ensure accountability and appropriate apportionment of service costs.

It appears that this government intends to impose another system under which cottagers will continue to subsidize other park users.  Information gathered to date from Manitoba Conservation and its publications suggests that cottagers should be concerned about the fairness of the proposed new Property Service Fee System (PSF).

We have also been informed that capital expenditures on new infrastructure will now be recovered through the PSF system on an amortized basis. In addition, existing infrastructure will be brought into the PSF system in order to recover the ongoing capital costs associated with past projects. Parks Branch is determining how far back they intend to go in this regard. All those in a service district will pay for that infrastructure whether or not that service is available to their property. This is contrary to what is stated on Manitoba Conservation’s PSF web pages (see “New share allocation method“). This represents a new source of revenue for the government. The inclusion of existing infrastructure will necessitate that we have access to Manitoba Conservation’s detailed accounting records in order to determine the true cost and amortization status of that infrastructure.

Although it has been published that neither category of user or user location will affect share assignment (“New share allocation method“), different methods of calculating share assignments are to be used for different categories of users. In other words, a user’s share allocation will depend on which formula is used for that user category. It has been proposed that share assignments for cottagers will be determined based on capacity rather than intensity of use. This is the primary reason for the “bedroom survey” that we all received. Cottagers will also be expected to declare which seasons they use their cottage as part of the proposed formula. Actual occupancy level will not be taken into consideration for cottagers. Full-time residents will pay an additional levy.

We have not been informed as to what service fee system model has been proposed for businesses, only that, in general, businesses have been reluctant to provide information necessary to its development. It is the opinion of the WCA that the same method of share determination must apply to all user categories in order to achieve a fair apportionment of service costs.

Any formulae used must reflect intensity of use in order that the system is fair, equitable and transparent with respect to the treatment of different user categories and the relative loads that they place on services and infrastructure. For example, will a 3 bedroom cottage that is utilized 112 person nights annually(28 days X 4 people) equate to 3 bedrooms at a hotel that are utilized at a rate of 720 person nights annually (120 days X 3 rooms X 2 persons per room)? How does the cottage capacity formula equate to the formula used for a convenience store, a golf course, or a restaurant?

We have been advised that some user groups such as Special Consideration Organizations (SCO) will not be required to pay their full share of service costs under the new system. They are to be subsidized by Manitoba Conservation. This infers that share allocation must still be accurately and fairly determined for those users and that a portion of those shares be added to those allocated to Parks Branch operations. These shares must remain a separate line item distinguishable from those directly attributable to Parks Branch. This is a better approach as long as any subsidy is provided by the province as a whole and no attempt is made to recover the additional expense to Manitoba Conservation through the PSF system or other fees charged to cottagers.

Such treatment of the SCO issue would be a step forward, but this government should also subsidize businesses in parks more directly where such subsidization is deemed necessary, rather than manipulating the PSF system so that cottagers solely pay for that subsidization. Removing subsidization from the PSF system will restore it to the realm of accountability to the electorate of Manitoba.

Service District Committees have been proposed as part of the new system. These committees will function in a consultative capacity only. There will be no votes and they will hold no authority. Representation on the committees will not be proportional to the total percentage of service costs that each stakeholder group is responsible for as has been previously stated to the WCA. As a stakeholder, Parks Branch will have representation on these committees. It has also been made clear that Parks will continue to be the final decision maker (see “Service provision“) in all matters with no recourse of appeal available to service fee payers.

We are informed that options have been prepared for government and that the final decision as to what models are utilized for the new PSF system will be made by the Minister of Conservation and his cabinet colleagues.  Those proposals include; resumption of consultation without government providing expense details, or simply imposing an equal levy on all provincial park cottagers regardless of services received, with the funds deposited to the province’s general revenue account.  Either proposal would constitute a “cottage tax”  rather than a service fee system. In fact, that has been the status of the current system for the past decade since government decided to disregard the requirement for consultation as provided for in section 18(2) of the Provincial Parks Act.

Related Links and Documentation

The Parks Act
Manitoba Conservation – Property Service Fee System web pages
Manitoba Conservation- Property Service Fee System review project
PSF Review- Request for Proposals document

Leave a Reply

All News Categories

Hello WCA, Here are the new items for today. - Manitoba Hydro released information this afternoon regarding the expected continued high water flows on the Winnipeg River (we have provided the link below and some of the key lake points). The Winnipeg River is expected to crest between June 5-10. Please see to view the forecast.- The shoreline adjacent to the Pointe du Bois subdivision has been included in the 100 metre from shore prohibition on recreational motor boat use. Whiteshell Provincial Park: May 27, 2022 A local state of emergency has been declared for Whiteshell Provincial Park on May 20, 2022 due to rising water levels within the park. Developed areas at Betula Lake were closed on May 21, 2022. This closure area was expanded (May 24) to include Sylvia Lake, Otter Falls, Dorothy Lake, Barrier Bay and Nutimik Lake areas. No person should reside or enter into the closed area. Please visit the Manitoba Parks Website to see a map of the closure. This applies to all cottage subdivisions, commercial areas, campgrounds, group use, day use, recreational and picnic areas, playgrounds, trails, and beaches with within the order area. During the closure no person should reside or enter into the closure area of the park. Manitoba Hydro released information this afternoon regarding the expected continued high water flows on the Winnipeg River. Water continues to rise significantly along the lakes that make up the Winnipeg River system (Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor, and Sylvia Lakes as well as Pointe du Bois) as water moves downstream from Lake of the Woods. Water levels rise quickly in these areas due to natural restrictions along the river. Please see to view the forecast. Manitoba Hydro is predicating an increase of water levels from the current high water over the next 10 to 14 days, as follows: • 6 inches upstream of Eight Foot Falls. • 10 inches in Nutimik Lake. • 9 inches in Dorothy Lake. • 11 inches in Margaret/Eleanor Lake. • 1 foot in Sylvia Lake. • 8 inches upstream of Silver Falls. The Winnipeg River is expected to crest between June 5-10. Rising water levels and rapidly evolving conditions pose a significant risk to public safety. Manitoba Parks continue to monitor safety and water levels inside the closure area, additional safety measures may be applied if required. Manitoba Parks has been contacting all permanent residents in the closure area. If you have not been contacted by Manitoba Parks staff to register, please call the parks line at 204-340-6769 and leave a message with your name, lot, block, subdivision, and ask to be added to the permanent residents list. You will then be called back to register. Water levels improvement are being seen in all areas south of the Winnipeg River. Falcon, West Hawk, Star, Caddy, Brereton, White, and Jessica Lakes are reporting a decrease today. One log was also inserted into the West Hawk Dam on May 26 to slow the downstream flow, this change will take a few days to positively impact Jessica and White Lake. Manitoba Parks staff are working in conjunction with staff from the department of Manitoba, Transportation and Infrastructure to monitor lake levels and adjust control structures where possible. This includes monitoring structures for blockages. Crescent Beach seawall at West Hawk is barricaded and closed. Pay attention to signage, and barricades. The travel lane has been moved away from the wall and is narrow in spots, please travel slowly. Cottages in the Crescent Beach, High Rock, McKenzie Beach, and Hunt Lake subdivisions should be aware of the potential for a re-route in the event of further damage to the seawall. Sandbags for filling and sand are available for cottage owners at: the 8 Foot Falls Road in Pointe du Bois, Jessica Lake at the garbage collection site, the parking lot across from Brereton Lake Resort, the West Hawk maintenance yard, and the causeway at Falcon Lake. There are a limited number of pre-filled bags at the Jessica Lake and Pointe du Bois depots. PR 307 from the west park entrance to the PR307/309 junction, and PR 312 near Caddy Lake is closed to all traffic. PR 309 near Meditation Lake is restricted to local traffic only. We encourage everyone to check before travelling. You can call 511 anywhere in Manitoba to get updates by phone. Water is present on several block roads throughout the park. White Lake Block 4 is closed to vehicle use. The following block roads should not be crossed in a smaller vehicle until the water recedes: High Rock Road at West Hawk, and Jessica Lake Block 5-6-7-8. Caution should be used when travelling through flooded areas. The following boat launches are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: 8 Foot Falls, Big Creek, White Lake, Jessica Lake, South Shore Big Whiteshell, and Toniata. West Hawk and Falcon Beach Campground Boat launches have been re-opened. Public can expect open launches to be without docks, high water is preventing repair and placement of docks throughout the park. Please use caution and courtesy when boating. All boat traffic should be cautious of debris and items submerged below the surface. Please be advised that you cannot visit the closed area of the park by boat. Access is not allowed to your cottage or recreational areas via the Winnipeg River. No landing in the closed area is allowed. Extreme caution should be used with travelling the upstream portion of the Winnipeg River (Pointe du Bois to Lamprey Falls). To minimize potential erosion caused by boat wakes, recreational motor boat restrictions are in place. Recreational motor boat traffic is prohibited from operating within 100 metres of the shoreline on: West Hawk, Falcon, Caddy, Star, Brereton, Jessica, White, Big Whiteshell, Betula, Nutimik, Dorothy, Margaret, Eleanor Lakes, and the shoreline adjacent to the Pointe du Bois subdivision in Whiteshell Provincial Park. When exiting or approaching the shoreline, boats should move directly out from land and avoid creating a wake. The following hiking trails are closed in addition to those in the park closure area: the Marsh Trail (between Falcon Lake Marina and Beach Campground), TransCanada Trail at Penniac Bay, and Hunt Lake. All backcountry campsites in Whiteshell Provincial park are closed due to flooding, high water conditions and frequently changing portage conditions. Campers should check the Manitoba Parks homepage for the status of campgrounds prior to coming to the park. Several campgrounds have full or partial closures. All campground in the closure area will remain closed until this portion of the park reopens (Dorothy Lake, Opapiskaw, Nutimik Lake, and Otter Falls). In addition, White Lake Campground is closed (seasonal and nightly) and nightly camping is closed in Big Whiteshell Campground. Phone Numbers/ Websites:• Parks info line for water, flood and closures: 204-340-6769 between 8am and 6pm daily. • To report an emergency please contact the RCMP via 911 if located in the South Whiteshell, 204-348-7177 in the North Whiteshell, and 204-345-8685 in Pointe du Bois. • Camping Information 1-888-482-2267 for the Parks Reservation Service. • Environment, Climate and Parks General inquiry line 1-800-214-6497. • Highway conditions: • Manitoba Parks: for a list of other closures.• Manitoba Hydro Water Flow New Release:• DFA Information:, or by phone at 204-945-3050. ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Regular weekly Hydro report for Winnipeg River LakesNOTE: this is a 7 day forecast, the earlier one was 10-14 day - so the numbers are different ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Winnipeg River hydro report(Our regular Friday report expected in about an hour) ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Posted on Caddy lake page (Dennis Dyck) – “ Found floating on Caddy Lake; blue plastic barrel. Still has both bung caps installed, so likely used as a float support rather than a weight. A marathon canoe with a # 32 painted on it. A 5 gallon jerrycan If these items belong to you please pick them up at block 9, lot 25. Thanks ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Sheila Dancho – “I have lost two sections of stairs that look like these. Please post to your page. Thanks for your help. Contact info 2042663066 Sheila Dancho from The Nutimik Island” ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook

Recent Instagram Posts