Saturday, April 19, 2008

How Much Are These Falls Worth?
Well, definitely the $1.00 it cost me to do the short walk up to see and enjoy them. And judging by the cars sporting parking receipts, most visitors to Shannon Falls Provincial Park outside of Squamish, British Columbia would agree the fee is reasonable. In fact, BC has quite a reasonable day use fee system in place for its amazing park system.
BC Parks charges day use fee at 40 of its busiest parks, most of them being in the Lower Mainland, Okanagan and Victoria Area. The rate? Just $1.00 for an hour, $2.00 for up to three hours and $3.00 for all day. Or you can buy an annual pass for just $25.00. And BC makes it easy for people like me passing through to stop and visit. You can pay by credit card via an easy machine right at the park's entrance.
Now most of you know that I am a big proponent of day use fees if they are equitable and used properly. Remember Washington's ill fated program? $5.00 for a day pass and $50 for an annual pass and needed at all parks even the little-visited obscure ones. Definitely not fair and reasonable. BC's is! And all the money goes back into their parks-and not just the ones that collect the fees. BC has the second largest park system in Canada, larger than Ontario's incredible park system (and where one third of all Canadians reside).
Head over to one of BC's main parks outside of Vancouver and you'll see where your dollar is going. New campsites, restrooms, bridges and beautiful trail improvements. New parks too. The money is being reinvested into their parks.
Visit a Washington state park and you'll see crumbling infrastructure, worn out facilities, trails badly in need of maintenance and a park system that is not keeping up with its growing population. What a shame! The state doesn't want to properly fund these gems and the public doesn't want to bite on user fees. You get what you pay for. And in BC my $1.00 got me a little leg stretching under a 1,000-foot waterfall, the third highest in the province. Not a bad return on my dollar!

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