Frequently Asked Questions about proposed canal fees
Q1. Why are new fees for canals being introduced?
The current fee model is no longer sustainable and requires changes to be both fiscally responsible and ensure those who receive the greatest direct benefit pay a larger share of the cost of providing service. The new fee structure for canals, based on a per use model allows for better flexibility in aligning fees with services accessed by boaters while reducing the portion of the cost that is funded by taxpayers.
Q2. When will the new fee structure for canals go into effect?
For boaters, lockage fees will not increase until 2014. Other fees, such as mooring, will increase after all approval processes are complete, sometime in 2013. Current fees will remain in effect until that time. Seasonal lockage and seasonal mooring passes for 2013 continue to remain available for purchase at the current fee.
Q3. How are the proposed fees fair for Canadians?
Lockage through canals is a service that provides a personal benefit directly to the users. A pay per use system allows for users who receive the greatest direct benefit to fund a larger share of the cost of providing the service. The proposed pay per use system will also allow a larger share of the cost of operating the service to be funded by the user, in the form of user fees, reducing the share to be funded by taxpayers.
Q4. How did PC come up with the original pricing structure for lockage?
There has long been a need to increase the portion of the costs associated to navigation that are recovered from user fees for canal lockage. At less than 10% cost recovery, it is significantly lower than the 35% cost recovery rates for the rest of Parks Canada services to visitors. As there was no reduction to the operating season of canals, the ability to reduce operating costs at times of low usage by boaters was hindered. This led to an even greater need to increase the portion of costs recovered from user fees.
Recognizing the need to develop a new pricing structure for lockage, there was also recognition that the new structure would need to be easy to understand and to implement as well as increase consistency between canal fees in Ontario and Quebec and simplify the number of permit categories.
Data concerning lockage traffic, types of permit sales and use, revenues generated, operational costs, market comparisons and economic impacts of operations was analyzed by Parks Canada staff, representing canal field operations and pricing expertise, who then discussed potential scenarios. The results were discussed, and the original pricing structure was developed and discussed further with additional canal field staff.
Q5. How did PC come up with the revised pricing structure for lockage?
Since the launch of national fee consultations Parks Canada carefully reviewed feedback from Canadians, and subsequently began the reassessment of all information with the consideration that the season’s pass and 6 day pass be reinstated but at rates that represented higher multiples of single lock costs than had been used in the past.
Q6. How did PC come up with the revised pricing structure for mooring?
Since the launch of national fee consultations Parks Canada carefully reviewed feedback from Canadians and subsequently began the reassessment of all information with the consideration that the day mooring fee be reinstated at national parks and a new day mooring fee be created at canals. It was also considered that the overnight mooring fee be lower than the original proposal and the seasonal pass be reinstated but at rates that represented higher multiples of previous single overnight costs. The proposed fee is consistent with the amount charged by other providers of similar services on the canals.
Q7. Why has Parks Canada proposed adjustments to user fees for lockage that are significantly higher than the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?
Reports dating back to 1985 have proposed reducing services, improving operational efficiencies, increasing user fees and calling for financial assistance from provincial and municipal governments to ensure future sustainability of the canals. While some recommendations have been implemented, for a variety of reasons many of them have not, resulting in a canal system that continues to be difficult to sustain, placing a large portion of the costs of operating services for boaters on the Canadian taxpayer.
Parks Canada is committed to continuing to make the best decisions possible in ensuring the future sustainability of the canals and that these Canadian treasures remain a vibrant part of local economies.
At the same time, real challenges need to be addressed related to the costs of delivering services where a direct personal benefit is largely being funded by the Canadian taxpayer.
The fees for lockage services must be adjusted by more than the CPI to ensure the sustainability of the offer into the future.
Q8. Why has Parks Canada proposed adjustments to user fees for mooring that are higher than the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?
After completing comparative market research, it became clear that Parks Canada national mooring services are currently undervalued with regard to the market and costs and need to be adjusted beyond the CPI to ensure sustainability of the offer and to stop providing an unfair competitive environment for private and municipal providers of the same service.
Q9. What is the cost for passing through a single lock?
The proposed fee, for the 2014 season, will generally cost boaters $0.60 per foot (based on boat length) to pass through a lockstation but at some more complex locks, where more staff time is required, the rate will be $0.90 per foot. These rates are based on striking the right balance of affordability for lock users balanced with the amount of subsidy by Canadian taxpayers and economic considerations. These rates across all canals provides for consistency between canals in both Ontario and Quebec.
Q10. How much will a new season's pass cost for lockage?
Starting in 2014, the seasonal pass will be based on all lockages after the first 25 being free. As such, the proposed cost of a seasonal pass will be $15.00 per foot. That is equal to just 25 locks at the single level 1 lock rate of just $0.60 and is good for both level 1 and level 2 locks. This rate was set to promote seasonal usage at an incentive rate as the current average seasonal pass holder passes through about 28 locks. Broken down between June 1st and October 1st, this amounts to a proposed increase of just $31.25 per month, barely $1 per day for a 25 foot boat.
Q11. How much will a seasonal pass for mooring cost?
A seasonal pass for mooring is again being proposed where those mooring more than 16 nights will be getting their additional mooring for free. For a season pass for mooring, it has been valued at $20.00 a foot. This means that a 25 foot boat will have unlimited mooring at spectacular world class locations along Canada's historic canals, and in national parks which offer boat moorage, for the entire season for just $500. Nowhere else in Canada can you moor your boat at such amazing locations for $125 per month.
Q12. What comparisons were made for the proposed mooring fees?
Mooring offered by Parks Canada is at a service level comparable to many mooring services near Parks Canada locations along the canals or close to national parks. Depending on the location, private moorings might offer additional services at additional costs. Above and beyond the facilities found in the majority of mooring sites at Parks Canada locations, Parks Canada offers a unique experience for visitors at mooring locations that connect the visitor with the beauty of incredible natural surroundings or the history of a national historic site. Parks Canada considered comparisons with both public and private marinas and docking facilities.
Mooring at Parks Canada locations is often convenient as mooring is a contiguous portion of the canal or national park experience, with facilities often located right at lockstations for easy access and departure to the next destination.
Q13. What is the proposed cost for daytime mooring?
The current fee is $0.40 per foot at national parks, and the proposed fee at all Parks Canada locations along canals and in national parks is $0.50 per foot.
For a 25 foot boat, the cost for daytime mooring would be $12.50. There will be an end of day cut-off time determined at each location when the boater will have to leave the mooring facility.
Q14. What is the proposed cost for overnight mooring?
The current fee is $0.90 per foot and the proposed fee at all Parks Canada locations along canals and in national parks is $1.25 (2.5 times the daytime rate of $0.50).
For a 25 foot boat, the proposed cost for overnight mooring would be $31.25. This is an increase of just $8.75 per night.
Q15. What is the proposed cost for a seasonal pass for mooring?
Using the multiple of 16 times the overnight rate ($1.25), the proposed fee is $20.00/ft, for a 25 foot boat, a seasonal pass will cost $500, an average of $125/month for unlimited mooring in any Parks Canada location.